Album: Mo Kenney
Label: Middle Of Nowhere
With her self-titled debut album of incredible quality Mo Kenney, surprised the American music world and the album is now available in Europe. Nothing else but something really good has been expected of the Canadian singer-songwriter after she had already received attention and support by several established musicians (Joel Plaskett, Ron Sexsmith) and the release of her successful debut album in 2012 and if you’re not into tracking down imports, you finally get to hear why. Receiving several music awards in 2013 and this year’s ECMA (East Coast Music Association) nominations in four different categories didn’t lower the expectations.
This amazing skinny little lady of only 24 does justice to them all. First, it’s her vocals – there is so much convincing confidence and easiness in them. Everything she does seems effortless. At the same time she is fully in control of what she’s doing. Slight changes in her vocals from tender to powerful, from crystal clear to a tiny scratchiness when she wants it – this is pure musicianship. It’s the same quality you can find in singers like Katie Melua or Norah Jones.
Secondly, it’s her songwriting. Songs seem to come to her just as easily. They are light and easy to listen to and they differ nicely from each other. There is the mesmerizing „Eden“ about a carefree time in her early youth, the angry „Deja Vu“ or the emotional „In my Lungs“ with its wonderfully built melody – it’s this song that displays Mo Kenney vocal qualities best.
The musical arrangements add to the diversity of the album. In „Great Escape“ or „Scene of the Crime“ rough electric guitar sounds and rocky accompaniments provide a captivating contrast to Kenney’s acoustic guitar playing (very well performed, too). „Sucker“ also starts all acoustically and then turns into an upbeat pop song that again gives another dimension to Mo Kenney’s folk rooted songwriting (Elliot Smith’s influence nicely shining through it).
It’s a great album and really deserves nothing but praise. The thing with this amazing talent is, I can’t help thinking she could do even better than that. I know this is unfair in a way as she already does so incredibly well. My impression is that Kenney will find even more confidence than she already has and let her musical talent show through even better in the future. It’s as if she hasn’t fully let go yet and doesn’t fully depend on her own taste – this is just an assumption, admittedly. There is just nothing else I can think of that made this fine artist decide for some backing vocals that somehow don’t seem to suit the character of the song („Déjà Vu“) and for taking on a David Bowie cover („Five Years“) that just seems out of place on this fresh and new and different album.
Anyway, maybe it’s only me who doesn’t get it and of course it doesn’t stop me from highly recommending „Mo Kenney“.