Review: Kevin Devine – ‘Instigator’

kevdevinstigatorKevin Devine is a man who will always say what he thinks is important in his songs. With Instigator we get that right off of the bat with “No Why.” He sings about going to war and throwing a gun away. Once you listen to the first track, you know what you’re in for for the rest of the album. You’ll get wonderful, melodic guitars, heartfelt lyrics, and something that’s just plain real.

The title track is up next. It’s upbeat and “I wanna be your instigator” is instantly catchy. This is a prime example of how Kevin Devine can draw you in with a hook. You’ll find more of them within the rest of the album. There’s a wide range of ideas throughout the eleven songs Kevin graces us with. He said himself that “Instigator” is meant to be “kind of self-admonishing in playful way” and it is just that. When you get to “No History,” the lead single, the tone shifts. “No History” talks about 9/11 in a reflective kind of way. It’s a recollection of those events and how he was affected by that day.

Another song to make note of is “Freddie Gray Blues.” This song is painful on first listen, and doesn’t get much better on consequent listens. It’s painful because it’s true. Our system is broken in many ways and it’s unacceptable how some murders are just ignored as if they never happened. This album gets political, and it’s full of things that need to be said. Kevin is aware that some problems just can’t be ignored and when you listen, it’ll be hard not to agree with him.

Instigator gives the listeners a lot to stomach and we haven’t even touched on anything in the second half of it yet. The first half alone is enough of a reason to listen. It’s refreshing to see so many artists speaking out in a time when it’s needed most. “Daydrunk” provides a break from the political topics and is just as catchy as “Instigator.”

“I Was Alive Back Then” closes out the album and marks the longest song with 5:12 as the runtime. It’s just Kevin and a guitar for the majority of the song. With that, it’s also the slowest, and possibly most soothing, song. The change of pace doesn’t make it any less of a statement, though. You really should make sure Instigator is an album you give a listen to. Kevin Devine has a lot to say and this is one of his most important albums yet. If you’re interested, you can grab a copy of the album here.