“I just see everybody working for that same eternal weekend
Droning on and on and on and never doing what we wanted
Heavy legs two steps behind some forever dangling carrot.

and I’m tired of this
So who’s to say that we can’t just fucking change it?
Oh they want you to whistle while you work, 
they want you to whistle while you work your life away.
Oh they want you to whistle while you work, 
they expect you to whistle while you work your life away.
and I know it seems dramatic
but I treat it like a crisis
The office to the coffin
All our time and talent wasted

and that weight against your throat
is that a noose dressed like a necklace?
From here I couldn’t really tell the difference
Come on show me the difference 
Come on and show me the difference
Either way I say let’s not take more chances.

~Noose Dressed Like a Necklace
Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band, Matter of Time

Approaching Kevin Devine’s catalog is a bit like when you’re on a hike approaching a series of boulders and rocks in your way – you have no idea how the hell you are going to get through it all, but you know you’ll get somewhere once you do. Few songwriters in this age are as accomplished and underrated, I would say. Has KD ever reached any kind of critical success beyond the emo/punk circles that gave him credit and fame to start back when? If not, they ought to, because if there’s anything more impressive than the consistency Devine manages to produce, it’s the astute observations and sociopolitical pronouncements he espouses, the kind that many artists who want to “make a statement” wish they could say something about. At a time when everyone is shouting, this guy is actually saying something worth listening to.

I’m knee-deep toady by listening to “Matter of Time” remastered, a collection of songs recorded about three years ago but only recently were re-released in a shiny and new package for a vinyl release. So glad I found this. The production on these is fantastic, I love the full-band sound that’s backing him up and tearing into solos and cymbal crashes as Devine shouts his guts aloud. He is a great guitar player but he’s a wordsmith first and foremost; his ability to string together three dozen word thoughts in a single verse is unmatched. This was clearly recorded at a time when they were onto something, and the live recording highlights just how good these players are — locked in and ready to crescendo when they must, or dial down and let it the strings fade out at the last word. Probably helps they’ve got great material to work with – these songs offer an approachable, tried-and-true rock sound with off-kilter perspective and a hell of a lot of energy and grit.

What’s captured in this live studio session is what you get at one of their shows, blissfully so. I had the privilege of seeing him & the Goddamn Band in concert earlier this year and I get chills every time I think about it. Just as impressive was the part where the mic dropped out and he quieted the sing-along crowd to get through (I think it was) an acoustic cover of “It Never Stops.” He was a maestro, conducting himself as much as the rest of his band and the audience, both humble offering and

This guy, I’m telling you. He’s not fucking around. For years, I looked at his catalog as something kind of ancillary and also-ran, and it wasn’t until 2015 that I realized what a mistake that was. Fortunately, there’s a ton left to discover and absorb, and I’d wager that Devine, with his inimitable voice and perspective, won’t tire or slow down in his steps to share these honest passages of tired American life. At least, I hope not. I just want more of this sound, full and feisty and frustrated, unfettered.

“And I’m grabbing at a feeling now
That I can’t ever name.
Some sign posted to remind me
How I wanted things this way.
She says ‘It’s pretty but you hate yourself.

I can hear it clear as day.’
 And I say ‘I sing like this,
It sounds worse than it is. ‘

I’m okay, okay.
I’m okay, okay.
I’m okay, okay.
I’m okay, okay.
So just stay, just stay
So just stay, just stay
I’m okay, okay.
So just stay, just stay,
Just stay, just stay.”

~No Time Flat
Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band, Matter of Time