Review for Mo Kenney

With its gently plucked guitar and wistful, soulful vocals, the eponymous debut album from Canadian songstress Mo Kenney isn’t likely to find favour with many mosh aficionados. But while there are next to no opportunities to open up a pit during the album’s half hour or so run time, what it does perfectly is display Kenney’s astonishingly accomplished credentials as a musician.

Drifting from gentle, beautifully crafted folk as on opener Eden to jaunty power pop Sucker, the infectious Deja Vu building up to the incredible, almost garage rock crescendo of Five Years, it’s evident that every track on Mo Kenney has been slaved over lovingly to achieve the best possible result. Kenney’s voice itself is unfaltering throughout, her lush, soft tones and airy, floaty vocals seeming all the more delicate amongst the carefully-strummed acoustic guitar lines, occasionally reminiscent of the smooth, sultry resonance of fellow Canadian Dallas Green.

The only real fault about the album is that, while there is the tendency on occasion at various points on the album to change the pace, it is a largely one-speed affair, and the folk-led instrumentation throughout doesn’t help this in any way. It also can seem very samey at points thanks to this, with the folk sound not being the best place to practice innovation in the first place.

Nevertheless, while both of these points hinder the album from being lifted from good to great territory, Mo Kenney has produced an incredibly promising album with her first effort. She is clearly an incredibly talented artist and songwriter, and while this may not be to everybody’s taste, there’s no doubt that, with the right backing, she’ll find her own crowd much sooner than later.

by Heather, Indulge-Sound

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Clash Magazine

It’s remarkable that an artist such as Mo Kenney is only now approaching her debut album.

The rising Canadian songwriter has already scooped numerous awards, with established names such as Ron Sexsmith singing her plaudits.

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Mo Kenney wins her first ECMA

A big congratulations goes out to Mo Kenney for winning her first East Coast Music Award this weekend. Mo won Pop Recording of the Year for her debut, self-titled album. East Coast Music Week took place in Charlottetown, PEI from April 2-6 and featured dozens of live performances, an industry conference, and gala awards show.

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FATEA Magazine UK review

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”.

by Dagmar Brudnitzki

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Irish Times review

It has taken a while for the debut album of this Nova Scotian singer-songwriter to appear over here, but here it is – a sturdy piece of work with youth, talent and strong influences (the music of Elliott Smith, the films of Wes Anderson) at the centre of it. A rising star in Canada (she won the SOCAN Songwriting Prize for Best Song last year, and nabbed the New Artist of 2013 at the Canadian Folk Music Awards), 23-year-old Kenney has a knack of making something fresh out of familiar constituent parts. She is helped by a voice that is far removed from the usual, sensitively engaging with this genre. Indeed, in songs such as Eden, The Great Escape, I Can’t Talk, Scene of the Crime and In My Lungs, lyrical intensity is matched by vocals as commanding as a parade ground sergeant’s.

by Tony Clayton-Lea, Irish Times

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Irish Mirror with Mo Kenney

This week’s quick one comes from the very talented Mo Kenny who is releasing her debut album in Ireland today.

The Canadian singer is already a big hit in her home and she’s now touring our own little spot of the world to celebrate the long-player hitting the shelves (or internet) here.

We caught up with Mo to get the lowdown on her new record.

How long have you been singing?

I’ve been singing for about five years.

What’s the new record about?

The new record is about a bunch of things. Since it’s my first album, it’s a collection of songs from different times.

When’s the single being released?

The single is called “Deja Vu” and it is being released today too.

What has been your best gig so far?

So far I’d say my best gig was in Halifax at the Rebecca Cohn auditorium. I got to play with Symphony Nova Scotia and shared the bill with Joel Plaskett.

What are you listening to at the minute?

Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of John Grant. He’s awesome.

Describe your music in one sentence.


What has been your favourite moment as a musician?

Being a musician is great, I’ve had a lot of great moments so far. If I had to pick a favourite it’d be my first real tour all over the west coast of Canada.

by Maeve Quigley, Irish Mirror
What are your hopes for the new record?

I hope people like it.

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What the Ruckus review

Having already seen success in her homeland, Canadian singer/songwriter Mo Kenney is ready to take on the UK. ‘Sucker’ is the first single to be taken from her self titled debut, which gets it’s UK release through Middle Of Nowhere Recordings on April 7th.

Originally released back in 2012 by New Scotland Records, the album was recorded by, noted songwriter, Joel Plaskett (who also performs on the record) and has seen Miss Kenney nominated for many awards in her homeland and rightly so.

Having caught Mo last year supporting Rocky Votolato in London I know what she’s capable of and her sweet vocals and earnest lyrics made quick work of me and the rest of the waiting punters in The Lexington.

Thankfully, you don’t just have to take my word for it: You can check out ‘Sucker’ here.

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The Independent review

Rewind ten years or so and Canada seemed the most exciting place on the planet for new music.

That’s no longer the case, but the Great White North has plenty of intriguing talent beneath the cracks.

One of those is 23-year-old Nova Scotia native Mo Kenney whose self-titled debut was acclaimed back home on release in late 2012.

It’s getting a belated release on this side of the world today (she’s in the middle of an Irish tour right now) and it’s a seductive collection likely to woo admirers of the confessional singer-songwriter.

Kenney’s songs are spare and intimate and, in places, redolent of compatriot Kathleen Edwards. Some of her tracks are likely to earworm themselves into your heart – not least breakthrough song Sucker – and while it’s true that some of her ruminations are more humdrum than inspired, she displays enough craft and guile to make her a name to remember in the future. And the production from the better known Canadian Joel Plaskett accentuates her warm delivery.

by John Meagher, The Independent

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