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4 Stars from the Irish Times

The Irish Times Reviews In My Dreams
By Tony Clayton-Lea, The Irish Times

cover

Yet another smart singer-songwriter from Canada, Mo Kenney released her self-titled debut a few years ago, and the concerns that her follow-up might soften her edges slip away a few songs in.

A singer-songwriter unafraid to shred guitars, Kenney delivers a raucous 30-plus minutes.

When there aren’t F-bombs being flung about on Take me Outside and Telephones, there are words of lacerating truth (‘I’m not sorry that it hurt when I took your heart apart – because I liked it’, I Faked It) and heartfelt, if fatalistic resignation (‘If happiness should fade, I had it once and that’s enough’, Wind Will Blow).

Balancing folksiness and metallic edges with instinctual melodic power pop, Kenney strikes a blow for variation throughout. Folk, pop, scuzzy rock – she is clearly poised and ready to pounce.

No Depression reviews In My Dreams

By Cara Gibney, No Depression

coverI’m not sorry that it hurt
when I took your heart apart

‘cause I liked it
I remember how it felt
when I fell in love with someone
and they hit below the belt

My. There’s the other side of being crushed like a bug. “I faked it” has the shrug of past caring down pat. It even has a vaguely upbeat tempo just to rub salt into the wounds. Mo Kenney’s voice lacks effort. It is strong and fresh and dare I say content, as she devastates this poor sod. And those lines about the ice melting in the glass – bloody hell.

If you don’t have time to chase up any other tracks from Kenney’s In My Dreams, chase this. The Canadian singer-songwriter is releasing the album on 4th September. The album lurches from the cruel backlash of love in songs like “I faked it,” to wistful yearnings for love in title track “In My Dreams.” It recognises lonely despair, and it assesses the dehydration of love left out overnight. Her guitar playing carries all these weights. At times gently plucked and at other times it is fuzzy and slightly rocky – with a gamut of variations in between.

Kenney’s voice and the sweet harmonies in “Wind Will Blow” remind me of English artists like Rozi Plain or This Is The Kit. Again the lyrics are gripping. “I like the things that you create” she tells the subject of this song, as the guitar provides a sepia backdrop for her words; words that go on to talk about how this person runs through her like a blade. The scene is set, but the plot keeps shifting.

Then we have “Take Me Outside” with its Beatle-like intro to the opening lines:

take me outside
and blow my fucking head off
with your eyes, it’s alright

Sounds like the beginning of a powerful falling-for-you love song huh? Not a bit of it. There’s booze, and there’s blood and there’s not being able to last a year if she’s on her own. In the middle of all this Kenney’s voice is quite beautiful, it sounds young and unaffected. There are other songs on the album that would fall easier into the ‘beautiful’ category, this isn’t one of them. It is poppy, slightly rocky, with great 70s harmonies, and again the crafty happy beat belies what is being said.

I’ve been playing the CD in my car and after a few listens there isn’t one track that I fast forward. Keep an eye out for it in September.

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Exclaim! Reviews Mo Kenney in Guelph ON, July 26

Atsuko Kobasigawa

By Matthew Ritchie, Exclaim!
Photo by Atsuko Kobasigawa

Nova Scotian singer-songwriter Mo Kenney has come a long way as a performer since she first caught the attention of Joel Plaskett over four years ago with her minimalist, two-fingered take on Elliott Smith-like fingerpicked guitar pop. More bouts on stage in support of last year’s In My Dreams have made her less shy, and it shows in her playing and banter in between songs.

Jokes about her terrible wardrobe selection for the last (and hottest) day of Hillside (all-black, long-sleeved shirt and jeans), reasons for her running regimen (in short, staying healthy and escaping perverts in Dartmouth) and string of bad jobs (a dollar store clerk and pizza maker at a local grocery store) were peppered throughout a set that pulled heavily from her most recent LP and helped create a fully formed picture of the process behind the album and its songs.

Album openers “I Faked It” and “Take Me Outside” sounded even better in a stripped-down situation with just a live bassist and drummer, but it was set closer “Untouchable” that really showcased her strength as a performer, as Kenney alternated between fuzzed-out guitar licks and softly plucked chords as she kept cool composure in one of the more uncomfortably hot days of the fest.

Carnivore ft. Rachel Sermanni

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