EP Review: Kevin Devine Expands Himself on ‘No One’s Waiting Up for Me Tonight’

Kevin Devine © Shervin Lainez
Kevin Devine © Shervin Lainez
Kevin Devine’s ‘No One’s Waiting Up For Me Tonight’ is a short and sweet triumph.</span
Stream: “No One’s Waiting Up For Me Tonight” – Kevin Devine

Few singer-songwriters are quite as versatile as Brooklyn’s Kevin Devine. Throughout his 20-year career, Devine has seamlessly shifted between folk, indie rock, punky power-pop and a number of genres in between. The songwriter’s latest EP No One’s Waiting Up For Me Tonight (culled from songs written between January 2019 and March 2020) somewhat harkens back to some of his career beginnings as a folk singer, but Devine dresses his songs up in much more psychedelic and lush instrumentals. Of course, Devine’s lyrics provide slice-of-life poetry sure to connect with listeners in various life phases.

While Devine flourishes the songs throughout No One’s Waiting Up For Me Tonight with synthesizers, trippy guitars, and haunting backing vocals, the singer and an acoustic guitar at the forefront of the tracks. While Devine has always been captivating, even just equipped with a guitar, the way he builds these tracks out with instrumentation shows the singer is entering a new sonic landscape, where so many of these songs float in a dream-like state, unlike some of his more straightforward and even confrontationally emotional and political tracks like classics “Just Stay” or “No Time Flat.”

Even when the EP seems the most stripped down, Devine seems to be much more comfortable allowing himself to really let his lyrics sink in for the listener. Closing track “All There Is Now” feels like the bare-bones track, but Devine paces it like a lullaby, asking for help and accepting some of life’s eccentricities and troubles. Even in a grisly scene, noting how the world can be an unforgiving place in the title-track, the song’s foggy production gives it a daydreamish quality that still puts the listener in a place of serenity.

Devine remains to be an indie rock poet, filling No One’s Waiting Up For Me Tonight with both bleak and beautiful images. In the EP’s catchiest song “Taking Shape,” Devine mixes both the images of a routine visit to the dentist (“Metal machine music/Ringing my conductor skull”) with reminders not to dwell so much on the past and don’t carry so much weight:

Nest no wounded bird
Mind your hero complex
Mine never really worked
No One's Waiting Up for Me Tonight - Kevin Devine
No One’s Waiting Up for Me Tonight – Kevin Devine

Devine also can find the perfect way to be biting and sweet. In “I’ve Never Been Happier Than I Was In That Picture,” he’s very gentle when blowing out the flames on a past lover. As peaceful as times in our past seem, the closing lines to the track acknowledge the futility of dwelling on those old moments:

It happened, it’s over
I love ya, I miss ya
And I’ll never be happier
than I was in that picture

Still, the Brooklyn songwriter can wallop a political punch simply. The opening title-track seems like a soft attempt to try to find some solace in a chaotic world. At one point, Devine sings about how he’s lying in bed “horrified at everything” including wars starting over and not figuring important things out.

Devine continues to be one of the best and most versatile songwriters.

Venturing into psych-folk, he proves that he can strip his already excellent tunes and take them to new places, turning them into songs that let the listener levitate.

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:: stream/purchase No One’s Waiting Up For Me Tonight here ::

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No One's Waiting Up for Me Tonight - Kevin Devine

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