Sean Devine – Here For It All
This is an LP created with sincerity, & determination. However, a majority of the well-constructed 9-cuts sound inviting as average songs. Some stick in the mind, others don’t. The issues I have with Montana’s Sean Devine’s LP are minor. He does have the goods; he doesn’t have the guidance. Artists can be critically acclaimed but it doesn’t guarantee continued success. Grand Funk Railroad was critically acclaimed, too.
Sean is a credible, talented, likable artist. His bio states that career-wise he’s taken it on the chin a few times. Roadblocks, setbacks, disappointments, & missed opportunities. But that’s the music business, standard operating procedure.
Here For It All (Drops Sept 3-Crazy Mountain) is a cohesive narrative by a dedicated musician with competent songs. Musically they do follow a recipe with familiarity due to the numerous times songwriters have gone to this well. The lines, subjects, & choruses are similar to what mainstream singers often release.
Fortunately, Sean’s not sugary country-pop. His repertoire has some authenticity. His vocals have a fine tonality. He has a distinctive look; a persona that works. It’s the songwriting that needs to scrape out more originality, deeper creativity & more challenging compositions. Sean could be heir to John Prine, Townes van Zandt & Steve Goodman. Right now the songs don’t quite have their edge, lyrical cleverness, or vivid melodies.
The Here For It All CD art is pointless. With all the exceptional Sean Devine images in the insert, a line drawing of a bear is the best for the CD cover? There’s no connection to the music.
However, the musicianship sparkles with standard country arrangements. “Crazy Too,” is a good idea, bogged down in clichés: “…hell on wheels with the pedal down.” The premise has possibilities, but it’s loaded with empty calories. John Prine or Randy Newman would’ve added more chiseled lines, sarcasm, or humor to make it sting.
Sean has a Prine-sense. “You Ain’t Coming Home” is exceptional. “Feelin’ Like an Old Piece of Wood,” has a rural Richard Manuel (The Band) feeling with excellent guitar. Sean’s voice has black veneer with southern fried instincts – authenticity’s there. “Clay Bluffs,” is a beauty. Sean’s comfortable in John Mellencamp territory.
The band — Tone-Deaf Hippies, is Josh Thompson (producer/bass/harmony vocals), Chris Claridy (electric guitar), Austin Tripp (resonator guitar), Drew Harakal (acoustic/electric piano), Anthony DiCello (drums), Jeff Plankenhorn & Steve Bernal (cello).
Sean’s repertoire follows a viable musical path but needs an expressive sickle to weed through to even better ideas. Create songs that set him apart from the crowded field. The final original song borrows its title from a classic soul song: “Can I Get a Witness.” Not a good idea. This leads to cliches, redundancy, & repetitiveness. Sean can do better. He will. He has.
Photo from Sean’s Facebook. Sepia image: John Zumpano. The 36-minute CD: Available @