On the hearty collection of philosophical meanderings, rhetorical statements and clever narratives, Devine continues to say exactly what he means. Devine crafts the kinds of songs worthy of more than just a listen -- you're going to want to take note. Whether he's heavy in doubt or caught feeling hopeful, he's searching for something, some truth it in all. And in that search he's invited legions of fans over the years to sing along with him. Giving due nod to David Bazan -- he's made ceaseless efforts to figure it out with each record, from a new angle, a newly colored lens -- Devine hasn't stopped asking, "What if?" Something tells us Between the Concrete and the Clouds hasn't done much to settle his weary angst.
He wrestles with the process itself in his title track: "How could you ever know?/What if you said you don't?/What if you cleared your throat and let it go?" He's speaking to thick delusions, and crises of faith experienced by people throughout their lives, which leads to a resolve, "What if the end just ends? It's worthless to worry then." If the political commentary isn't quite for your musical palate, the fuzzed-out late-'90s indie rock sound and Elliot Smith-like croon might suffice. And this record is perhaps his most dynamic and polished to date: the ethereal guitar loops in "11-17," the gradual build of "I Used to Be Someone," on which he takes on his own ego as he assures, "I used to be someone, a brother's brother and a mother's son." These artifacts that we all identify with as a child become clouded by a thousand other names.
"Sleepwalking Through My Life" is another delicate pop ballad that calls to uncertainty and insecurity, and distractions. All the roadblocks to getting to the realness of it. The human messiness of the path to enlightenment -- as if the pursuit of a constant public battle against neuroses might just alleviate all the questions. But what follow are simply more questions.
Devine does it all with calculated curiosity and careful poetry, careful not to mince words. All the while, his voice is so disarming that you never feel as though he's pointing the finger -- it's more like putting up his hand. You can indulge in all the why's with Kevin Devine, An Horse and Ives the Band at House of Blues this Friday.