I’m a little late on this one and I’ve nobody to blame but myself. I received the album late last year and never got around to putting it into rotation and for that, I’m ashamed because it was one of the better albums of 2006 and probably should have made my contender list. C'est la vie. Ya can’t hear ‘em all I guess and better to have heard it late than not at all.
Upon first listen of Kevin Devine’s Put Your Ghost to Rest one is sure to discern that he’s a big fan of the late, great Elliott Smith but what probably isn’t expected is that Nirvana and Guns ‘N Roses are also huge favorites and cited as two of his biggest influences. But then again they’re some of my favorites as well and yet my current playlist would never indicate such. I digress. I’ll start by stating for the record that I’m all about the parental advisory sticker…I’m a big fan. As a Mother I know what to listen to before I allow my daughter to and personally it’s my big red flag to check out an album for myself. But I must say that I was super surprised to see it adorn the face of this…Devine’s fourth solo effort but his first after being signed to the Capitol label. Even after repeated (and I do mean repeated) listens I’ve yet to determine aside from a few stray expletives peppering the album what could possibly be so offensive as to warrant the warning. My point in mentioning the caution symbol is to let those consumers who might not be as adventurous and brazen as I know that they shouldn’t be turned off by the little black and white mar. They could have left it off but since they didn't, consider it a slight blemish on what is actually a beautifully compiled collection of music. You'll hear more cursing on Top 40 radio during your morning commute...trust me.
With tracks like “A Billion Bees” and “Less Yesterday, More Today” that range from introspective and biographical to the political and social “The Burning City Smoking” and “Heaven Bound & Glory Be”, the disc is a bit heavy handed lyrically but the melodies are sweet and sincere throughout. Country and folk fans will appreciate the nakedness of the majority of the album and Devine proves with this effort that the market isn’t cornered on sensitive, intellectual singer songwriters. Not yet anyway. There’s still more than enough room for someone of his caliber on the record store shelves. Those who read and know me fully understand how much I love lyrics…especially those that tell a story or make me think and Kevin’s lyrics are descriptive and engaging at all times. Uniquely, his songwriting style diverges from most in that he detours from the ordinary verse-chorus-verse mold by taking out the chorus altogether leaving room to allow for the free flow of the song which is brilliant and personally preferred on every track. Devotees of Indie darlings Josh Rouse, Elliott Smith, Ben Gibbard and Conor Oberst will without a doubt appreciate the intimacy and emotion of Put Your Ghost to Rest.
I’ll say this for the guy...he’s got amazing taste in tour partners. Fresh off his stint on the road with one of the MOST outstanding artists of 2006, KT Tunstall, Devine is like a machine and can presently be seen on the road for the entire month of February with some new favorites... Pablo and Koufax. This Spring, he’ll kick it up a notch by opening with Manchester Orchestra (have you seriously not given them a listen yet??) for Brand New through April. He’s all over the place this year so there’s absolutely no reason for you not to check him out. Scope out when he’s coming to a venue near you here and have a listen to some of my favorite songs from Put Your Ghost to Rest while you’re at it.Billion Bees
Less Yesterday, More Today
Heaven Bound & Glory Be
The Burning City Smoking