Review : Kevin Devine - Brother's Blood
SpinDon't hate Kevin Devine for being cute, 'cause the boy can't help it. When he sings about love, faith, and other weighty subjects in that sweetly tender way, you just want to give him an encouraging noogie. If Devine's fifth solo album recalls his emo days in Miracle of 86, it also proves that he's smart enough to vary his riffs. "Murphy’s Song," costarring the sublime vocalist Jaymay, has a jazzy sparkle, while the grinding eight-minute title track finds Devine in full-bore Crazy Horse mode, and it's thrilling....full text
PastemagazineBrooklyn singer/songwriter Kevin Devine works the familiar emo terrain of spurned lovers, broken hearts and self-loathing, but he’s such a canny writer and careful observer of human nature that his morose ruminations take on the aura of poetry. An admitted disciple of the late Elliott Smith, Devine has mastered Smith’s penchant for disarmingly lovely melodies that mask a brooding desperation. Unlike Smith, whose music became increasingly baroque with bigger labels and larger recording budgets, Brother’s Blood keeps it simple—albeit louder and more dissonant than Devine’s previous four efforts. His deft acoustic folk fingerpicking anchors almost all these songs, but there are stylistic leaps galore, including the winding Neil Young/Crazy Horse slow burn of the title track, and the tortured “Carnival,” which starts off soft and shimmering and warps into a Pinkerton-era Weezer tantrum. But make no mistake—the songwriting is the real highlight here, and Devine’s scathing observations and idiosyncratic details leave a disquieting mark. “Hand of God” marries swooning Simon and Garfunkel harmonies with a poetic, cosmic meditation on human suffering and the absence of divine intervention. There’s no bridge over these troubled waters, but there’s blood, filial and otherwise, swirling in the currents....full text
MusicemissionsThis guy is good. Evidently, Kevin Devine is merely a victim of the human condition that keeps us all trying to survive every big or small moment in our days. The only difference between him and us is that he knows it, so he milks it. The small observations he makes unravel into lyrics so poetic and so beyond our tangible grasp. “Carnival” is the most beautiful and profound example of the depth with which his eyes gaze into the world (“And I felt a feather fall, a tree trunk split / inside my lying mouth played violin / he said, ‘you should give up your voice / before we both end up destroyed’).” His sentences are enigmatic, metaphorical, and yet all too poetic and relevant to us and to the world at large.
Then there is the versatility with which he rocks that distinguishes him from the Elliott Smith label that is slapped onto his music so often. “Hand of God” still possesses those trademark metaphorical lyrics, but it’s got a folk-y sass that dances alongside his strumming techniques so effortlessly. Similarly, “I Could Be With Anyone” also draws the attention to the poppy beat that progresses with each verse. On the other hand, somewhere in between the two songs, monotony starts to creep into the ambience, and the actual music starts to fade behind the lyrics....full text
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If someone stares to you do you stare back?