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Mo Kenney - Mo Kenney LP (Review)

Mo Kenney, Mo Kenney

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

HAVING impressed greatly with her recent single Sucker, Canadian singer-songwriter Mo Kenney now repeats the trick with her eponymous album.

Having influences and inspirations drawn from classic and alt-rock artists rather than the traditional singer/songwriter pantheon, Kenney has delivered an LP that she’s quite content to hear be described as “pop music with a folky twist”.

“It is pop-y as they’re often short and catchy little songs,” she says. “I wanted to stay away from the typical singer/songwriter thing and do something a little different. These songs are like a collection of the music I have been carrying around since I was about 15. Many of the songs were written when I was younger, so the album is a weird mix.”

Hence, while Sucker charms as a folk-addled pop song that shimmers along beautifully courtesy of its folksy guitar hooks, slick beats and beautifully realised vocals, The Great Escape hints at a repeat of the same formula before then catching you off-guard with some more robust guitar work that has a folk-rock element to it.

And Scene of the Crime opens with an almost bluesy riff that proceeds to deliver the type of stripped down rawness that PJ Harvey once used to specialise in. It’s a gloriously moody, even sultry offering, that showcases a different side to the Kenney sweetness complete with lyrics like “don’t know who you are ‘til you fall, don’t know how to run ‘til you crawl”. It’s a break-up record but one with real guts.

In the flicker of an instant, though, Kenney revisits her more happy-go-lucky demeanour with an aptly named song like The Happy Song which, as its name suggests, immediately sets those toes tapping and places a smile on the face. It’s accompanied by the type of acoustic strum-along that has turned Jack Johnson into a household name and charms effortlessly.

There’s a hint of the Norah Jones on In My Lungs which, again, shows off Kenney’s ability to deliver a killer lyric (“you are hiding in my lungs like a bat inside a cave”), while Deja Vu wallops you with a return to the gritty guitar sound and rocks its way into your head in hugely enjoyable fashion. The chorus is oh-so catchy (“gonna take my bad luck, turn it into good luck”) and destined to become an easy sing-along moment.

But it’s further evidence of the album’s sustained ability to keep you engaged (and its versatility) that the next track strips things right back down for a lamentful offering called Five Years that finds Kenney in sombre, reflective mode and coming over all serious again. As ever, though, she’s a fiercely compelling songstress.

Carnivore rounds things off with a suitably satisfying track that is steeped in lyrical uncertainty yet warm acoustic licks. It confirms – if there were any lingering doubts by that stage of the album – that Kenney is a hugely appealing new talent.

Download tracks: Eden, Sucker, The Great Escape, Scene Of The Crime, The Happy Song, Deja Vu

Track listing:

  1. Eden
  2. Sucker
  3. The Great Escape
  4. I Can’t Talk
  5. Scene of the Crime
  6. The Happy Song
  7. In My Lungs
  8. Deja Vu
  9. Five Years
  10. Carnivore