Review Summary: If you're a fan of Brand New or Elliott Smith you may want to check this out...
Given the recent success of Kevin Devine’s Kickstarter project to fund his latest two LP’s (one of which being produced by Brand New’s Jessey Lacey) I thought it would be appropriate to look back on one of his previous achievements. Brother’s Blood, released back in 2009 is KD’s fifth album and perhaps the most colorful of his releases thus far. Right off the bat I have to recommend this album, and Kevin Devine in general, to anyone who is a fan of either Brand New or Elliott Smith; the influence is definitely there. The acoustic stylings intermingled with a certain harsh darkness will remind you of the best those two above mentioned have to offer but it never takes away from the unique identity he’s managed to craft through his complex but astounding lyrics and his never over-produced sound.
It’s the kind of album that makes you crash back home after work with a whiskey, or whatever drink that suits your country; the one you love but question. Yes there are some political themes, but it’s always subtle and inter-subjective. Kevin Devine and his Goddamn Band have a great way of never drowning you in their weighty themes, the music being approachable but dense. His lyrics urge you to poke and prod but take only what you will from them. It arrests you, keeping you in the chair until you’re stirred by the things you have, or perhaps swishing the glass around at the things you don’t. It’s a rollicking and honest mess of drunken thoughts turned into something much clearer and more sober.
And I suppose that will be the defining factor for many on this album; it wears its heart on its sleeve. Fans of the genre will likely admire this but it would be tough to say that this would apply to all. The album absolutely nails consistency though, the tone being dark but always approachable. You could take these songs as darky lit campfire tunes or something of a long bus ride investment. Carnival, Fever Moon and I Could Be With Anyone really give this album its flavor, introducing the whole band as a driving force. In the context of KD’s previous albums he seems much more comfortable falling back into his band and letting them carry the songs along.
In discussing this album with my roommate it continued to come back to the sheer passion found within this album. The few but powerful moments when Kevin’s soft singing escalates to harsh screams force you to feel the album, even if it’s your first listen. It was agreed that this album begs to be invested in, because it will reward you, but it doesn’t have to be. Anyone could potentially enjoy this album on the surface, but the more you invest the more it continues to resonate. It’s something in his personality that see’s through the music. I was lucky enough to meet him once at a show in Ottawa with no more than forty people. He’s in love with music, with playing it, well-spoken and honest. He is truly an artist who puts everything he is into his albums, and you can hear it immediately.
I recommend this to any fan of music but don’t expect a light experience. If you give this album a chance the investment is guaranteed to pay off. Let it speak for itself.