Kevin Devine Goes Kaleidoscopic With ‘Nothing’s Real, So Nothing’s Wrong’

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Reminiscing on twenty years in any field can exhibit a steady evolution or a painful downfall for an artist like New York-native Kevin Devine, an industry veteran who isn’t afraid to embrace the fluidity of the industry and his own tastes, something proven with his latest release Nothing’s Real, So Nothing’s Wrong. With this new psychedelic, stripped-down version of his signature sound, Devine proves the ability to reinvent while remaining true to his artistic instincts.

“I sort of knew after the dynamic approach to Instigator in 2016 and Bubblegum in 2013, that I didn’t really want to make a sort of up and down, Pixies/Nirvana rock record, and I also didn’t want to make some sort of stripped all the way bare, guy with a guitar record,” Devine shares with American Songwriter. “I knew whatever it was going to be, I wanted it to be something that was more wide-ranging, wide-screen, kaleidoscopic, strong songs with interesting chord choices that were then sort of deconstructed and gently fucked up.”

Painting by Valerie Hegarty

The first song that set the tone was “Someone Else’s Dream,” creating a distinct sound Devine describes as a sort of “folk-rock song having a nightmare in a Halloween store.” From there, the rest of the album fell into place, breeding new artistic processes in connection with his acid trip of sound exploration. 

“I definitely know the experience of making this record, from the first songwriting in January of 2019 to approving the masters in September of 2021, was really different to prior experiences that were much more truncated based on circumstance and necessity, where you sort of write the songs, demo them, get in a studio, and the whole thing sort of ends up taking four to six months end to end,” Devine shares. “This was a lot more decentralized than that and I think it benefited the particular group of songs greatly.”

Gaining inspiration from groundbreaking, off-beat records such as The Beatle’s White Album, Sparklehorse’s It’s A Wonderful Life, Radiohead’s OK Computer, Elliott Smith’s From A Basement On The Hill, and many more in the same vein, Devine crafted a central atmospheric theme of “strong songs in the middle of deconstructed fields of static and atmosphere,” as he explains.

Taking with him this new sound, perspective, and killer band, Devine is currently embarking on a US tour with a backing crew able to communicate a very dense record in a way that both honors and augments it. After two decades as a musician, Nothing’s Real, So Nothing’s Wrong is the record Devine feels most accurately represents his capabilities and temperament at this point and time—a true feat, and inspiration, for any artist. 

“I’m always just trying to provide a snapshot of what it is like to be a person at any given point in my personal history, which of course exists within and intersects constantly with our broader shared history,” Devine shares. “Maybe the thing I’m most interested in communicating is that it is hard to be a person and that it is okay to have feelings about that.” 

Photo by Erik Tanner / Big Hassle

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