Kevin Devine – ‘Nothing’s Real, So Nothing’s Wrong’ album review

Kevin Devine Nothing's Real, So Nothing's Wrong album artwork and review
Painting credit: Valerie Hegarty

Kevin Devine returns with his tenth (!) solo album, ‘Nothing’s Real, So Nothing’s Wrong’. It’s a record that finds Kevin in reflective mood as he tries to stay empathetic in a world that embraces both chaos and order.

‘Laurel Leaf (Anhedonia)’ opens the album in ambient yet disconcerting style with spoken-word samples being taken over by acoustic strums and observations about loneliness and being ashamed of the truth: ‘All the nights I cut myself and I felt nothing’. This is swiftly followed by the more woozy sound of recent single ‘Override’, a song that brings to mind Cursive as Kevin tries to find hisplace in the world by following a series of orders including to ‘Gently suggest that you don’t let it happen again’. ‘Swan Dive’ also sits in the power pop territory with zesty hooks masking the darker subject matter: ‘Blood in my cheeks and your teeth in my hair’.

‘Albatross’ has a slow-burning opening with talk about anger, terror and pride amidst a backdrop of ‘garbage trucks’ and ‘constant chaos’ striking a chord with so many of us, while ‘I’m Gonna Die Here’ has a looser and more organic, almost waltzy country feel. ‘Someone Else’s Dream’ is an appropriate slice of dream pop although with a stark warning from Kevin that he could also be ‘someone else’s nightmare’ and the reveal that he’s ‘barely hanging on’. ‘Hell is an Impression of Myself’ finds Kevin dipping his toes into more psychedelic waters, although the troubled characters in the storytelling remain before the Star Wars-referencing ‘It’s a Trap’ takes th album back into a more melodic space with a singalong chorus and captivating lyrics: ‘There’s got to be a reason for the things that you do and if it seems mysterious, it’s only to you’.

The record’s final throes find Kevin revealing his upset and anxiety about the misnomer that is soulless creatives who are more focused on Cosplay then sharing their souls on ‘Tried to Fall in Love (My Head Got in the Way)’ – ‘Tried to watch the band but my head got in the way’; ‘Where was the fire? Where was the urgency for life?’ – and then what lies ahead on the pensive ‘Stitching Up the Suture’. Described as “A grown-up break-up (or break-ups, as it were) record, for strugglers by strugglers”, ‘Nothing’s Real, So Nothing’s Wrong’ is another painstakingly crafted and powerfully honest record from one of the finest and most prolific songwriters around today.

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