Exclusive: Watch a Video for “Slouching Toward Bethlehem” from Devon Church

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Exclusive: Watch a Video for “Slouching Toward Bethlehem” from Devon Church

Winnipeg-born and New York-based singer/songwriter Devon Church has been everywhere the last five years, taking stints opening gigs for folks like Orville Peck and Kirin J Callinan, performing the brilliance of his debut album We Are Inextricable. But 2018 was a long while ago, and it cannot be understated how good it is to have Church’s wide-eyed crooning back in our laps. His new record, Strange Strangers, is something of a sophomoric masterclass, a refuge making sense of how we’ve lost touch with the faces we’d once memorized. While many pandemic-influenced records deal with getting back to a safe place with loved ones, Church’s Strange Strangers first aims to remember everyone’s names at a molecular level.

After releasing “Flash Of Lightning In A Clear Blue Sky” and “Ephemera,” each of which tackled various textural landscapes of folk rock and digital clippings, Church has put new single “Slouching Toward Bethlehem” into our orbits. It’s a brooding slice of lounge singer heaven, in which Church’s vocals are the centerpiece. His singing is ensconced with a warm cocktail of Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen; the arrangements seek out multiple meanings. At one moment, the guitars shine like a jangle pop dream. Elsewhere, the string arrangements screech like a cinematic concerto.

Church toys with exotic imagery and spirituality, engrossing his songs with love and psychedelia in an open-eyed, wandering way that only his pen can produce. On “Slouching Toward Bethlehem,” he is particularly excavating the contras and the uncouth beauty that spins our curiosities into irreplaceable warmth. It’s a play on the birth and death of Jesus Christ, injected with Church’s own didactic romance. “Rolling the stone from my tomb / Into a pornographic sunrise / Empty blossoms in my empty womb / Tender bodies smeared across the sky,” he sings. “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” is a tempest of Death of a Ladies’ Man-sized proportions, where Church is at his most-piercing.

The black humor of Church’s songwriting on “Slouching Toward Bethlehem” is emphasized by the accompanying music video, which he co-directed with Jared van Fleet and Ada Roth. It’s a utopian, surreal and lovely depiction of the spirituality and human condition that so deeply evokes the thesis of the song, and Strange Strangers: “Slouching toward Bethlehem / Giving birth to myself again / Wondering where my body begins / And where the bacteria ends.”

“During Covid lockdown, Ada and I were inspired by the film ‘the Color of Pomegranates’ to make a music video composed entirely of static shots on a smart phone and relying on interesting staging and weird costumes (into which we wisely invested our ‘stimulus’ checks),” Church notes about the video. “We did get a few good shots this way, and were able to be fairly spontaneous – when the creek near Ada’s folks home flooded we were able to capture that. When it was at low ebb we caught the glistening silver birch roots the flood had exposed. Over the course of a somewhat psychedelic weekend we quickly realized that Jared, with his relentless creativity (and professional equipment), was the director we needed to help us complete our project. Thematically, the video is made up of dream imagery and symbolism drawn from the subconscious and Vajrayana Buddhist sources. It’s a song and video dealing with ‘doubles’, the uncanny, a Fool’s quest for wisdom, death and the erotic.”

Watch the video for “Slouching Toward Bethlehem” below:

Full tracklist for Strange Strangers here:

Slouching Toward Bethlehem
This Is Paradise (But Not For Us)
Bored Of The Apocalypse
All Is Holy (A432)
Flash Of Lightning In A Clear Blue Sky
Winter’s Come
Since I Fell
Deer Park

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