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Sometimes reinventing the wheel isn't necessarily a bad thing. Former Miracle of '86 lead man, Kevin Devine, takes on one of the most tried and true styles of music on his second solo disc, Make the Clocks Move. Sometimes, when the guitar lands in the hand of the right person, that's all that there really needs to be for good music, and Kevin Devine is one those people. Make the Clocks Move is best kept as simple as it is.
The first track on the album, "Ballgame", starts the album off on a very high point, where Mr. Devine basically introduces himself to his audience by putting everything from his self-esteem to his politics on the table. The lines "I know the kid with his guitar/ So drunk and anxious/ Has been done to death/ So tell me what hasn't/ I'll try it" sum up the entire album, and yet they still leave so much more for the listener to discover. It's a simple beginning to a complicated, autobiographical record that is so honest it hurts.
Love, one of the most difficult and joyful aspects of life is not overlooked by Devine. In fact, the two stand out "love" tracks are from both ends of the spectrum. "Not Over You Yet" is an ode to a former girlfriend, breaking the listener's heart as Kevin's crumbles behind the veil of his music. "Marie" seems less like he wrote this track for himself, and more for any of his listeners who is in love today. There is very little that is more romantic, in every sense of the word, than writing a song to someone you love, and this a truly great love song. "Marie" could have the same effect on a nice indie-rocker chick that John Mayer's "Your Body is a Wonderland" had on your average mainstream chick. These two ends of the spectrum, again, point out two very common ways people are in (or out of) love.
The whole album isn't all about feelings, and it also isn't slow and folky like so many other albums done in this style. For example, "Noose Dressed Like a Necklace," and "People are so Fickle," take his sound into a more upbeat and rock realm, the latter track adding a touch of female backup vocals. This same delicate voice appears on the track "Whistling Dixie," a biting commentary on the state of the nation as it stands today. After going from lost and found love to politics, Kevin Devine makes his feelings for his friends and family extremely clear on his ode to them, "Splittling Up at Christmas," professing "I'm in debt to you all endlessly." A little of everything, all at once; a day in your life, a day in the life of Kevin Devine.
The overall feeling that Make the Clocks Move exudes is one of sadness; listen to this if you are feeling too good to be alive. However, that's the whole point. The album is a musical reincarnation of Kevin's life, and that is how things are. He doesn't try to gloss over that sad parts, he keeps everything real. In that reality, there are glimmers of hope too. Not every note of every track is a downer, life is like that. Things change, and so do people, this album reflects that, and it is a dose of reality for those listeners who are willing to take off their rose colored glasses and face the truth. The album ends with a studio outtake of Kevin saying, "I think that one was good." That about sums it up.
Jason Cipriano is the Senior Editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.