Kevin Devine | Brother's Blood (Favorite Gentlemen)

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cd_kevin-devine.jpg"Time to Burn (Another Bag of Bones" elevates Devine to near-perfection; as a result, the rest of the album feel lesser than.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's the thing with Kevin Devine : If you're a fan of simple, stripped-down acoustic folk-rock, you've got to give him a chance. Despite a deal with Capitol Records (who didn't know what to do with him and dropped him after just one album), the singer-songwriter has always struck true to his roots. His lyrics are poetry, delivered via his high-ranging voice.

Despite this focus, however, Devine's discs always have one absolutely standout track, a rocker that rises above the fray. On Capitol release Put Your Ghost to Rest, it was "Just Stay"; here it's the anti-war anthem "Time to Burn (Another Bag of Bones)." With lyrics delivered in near-speaking tones, Devine waxes poetic, including intoning "It's the constant racing shock of now/ and it's the whole damn world turned inside out."

Were it not for these mind-blowing tracks, I could take Devine's albums for what they are: solid folk-rock offerings. However, they set the bar extra high and then jump over it with room to spare. These songs elevate Devine to near-perfection; as a result, the rest of the album's tracks feel lesser than.

On the poppy "Hand of God (When You Breathe), Devine sings, "So when you breathe, breath deep.../ you might never breathe again." The title track is a slow burner; trouble is, it never quite leaves the ground. Stripped down with near-whisper delivery, "Fever Moon" is simple, quietly rewarding. "Yr Husband" begins with the humorous lines, "Your husband drinks like a writer/ I hope his pens all run dry."

Still, 10 of these 11 tracks are no "Time to Burn." With the killer track coming so early in the disc, the slower nature of the later songs feel like a letdown.

One last note about Kevin Devine: He's got one of the most entertaining live shows I've seen. In person he's utterly charming, to say nothing of funny as hell. His symbiotic relationship with his stellar backing band, The Goddamn Band, is apparent, and makes for an engaging performance. C+ | Laura Hamlett

RIYL: Elliot Smith, Owen, Iron & Wine

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