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Put Your Ghost to Rest

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Album Review

As part of Capitol Records' re-emergence as an alt rock label after years of near-neglect by EMI in favor of the younger, hipper Virgin imprint, Kevin Devine's major-label debut was released nearly simultaneously with the Decemberists' The Crane Wife. But where that album found Colin Meloy and crew expanding their sound into commercially dubious arenas like '70s prog rock and Fairport Convention-style folk, Put Your Ghost to Rest sounds deliberately intended to pull Devine from the indie folk ghetto onto AAA radio alongside the likes of KT Tunstall and John Mayer. Opening track "Brooklyn Boy" is built on the same intimate, acoustic guitar and voice combo as Devine's solo records, but producer Rob Schnapf adds strings, piano and other elements to flesh out the sound in a manner more conducive to radio play. Undoubtedly chosen on account of his work on Elliott Smith's XO and Figure 8 — the albums Smith made in exactly the same career circumstances as Devine, who's an admitted disciple of the late singer/songwriter — Schnapf does pretty much exactly the same for Devine as he had for Smith. While the richer arrangements and extra production gloss are neither intrusive nor inappropriate, it's clear that Put Your Ghost to Rest is meant as Devine's commercial breakout. For the most part, however, Devine sticks to what he does best: emotional lyrics set to gentle, folk-rock influenced tunes; the main exception, "Go Haunt Someone Else," is one of the album's bright spots, a playful bit of neo-psychedelia similar to Michael Penn's more overtly '60s-influenced work. Perhaps too low-key to fully grab the mainstream, Put Your Ghost to Rest at the very least won't offend Devine's indie audience.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Singer and songwriter Kevin Devine has won a loyal following in indie rock and emo circles for his emotionally urgent songs of love, life, and politics. Devine was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 19, 1979. After graduating from high school, he enrolled at Fordham University to study journalism, but in 1999 his priorities turned to music; he began performing solo at coffeehouses and open-mike nights, and soon he and Chris McAllen, a friend since high school, formed the emo band Miracle of '86...
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Put Your Ghost to Rest, Kevin Devine
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