Penny Black Music reviews In My Dreams
Canadian Mo Kenney’s second album expands on the pop/folk of her acclaimed and award-winning debut by introducing a rockier and, at times, more experimental sound
Mo Kenney has been quoted as saying that her self-titled debut from 2012 had a foot in a couple of different genres, namely the pop and folk camps. Not surprisingly Kenney won awards for her debut covering both the pop and folk side of her music and, as her follow-up, ‘In My Dreams’, has already been out in other territories for some time that has also picked up or already been nominated for various awards. With ‘In My Dreams’ Kenney takes a rockier stance, not so much as to alienate those who loved that debut, but there’s certainly more of a rockier edge to some of the Canadian singer-songwriter’s new songs.
There are those of us that, although it pains to have to admit it, have not been as impressed with Aimee Mann’s recent output as we were with her earlier work. Although Kenney is far from a Mann impersonator vocally, or even lyrically, there are times when listening to ‘In My Dreams’ when Mann’s best work comes to mind. That’s really where any comparisons are going to stop, for while it’s a compliment to be compared to such talent Kenney really has, even as early as her second album, made a strong case for being in a class of her own.
Joel Plaskett who also lends his considerable musical skills over a number of instruments and shares four co-writing credits here produced the album. Kenney wrote five of the songs single-handedly ,and the rest, bar one cover, she co-wrote. ‘Telephones’ the one song here that Kenney didn’t have a hand in writing, has been receiving the most attention so far. It’s obvious why as lyrically it’s smart, it’s one of those songs that are full of hooks and Kenney’s vocals are captivating. Lines such as “You used to make my Mondays Saturdays” and “You listen to techno/I hate that stuff” detail the breakdown of a relationship astutely, while the sing-along, jaunty melody belie the, at times, cutting lyrics such as “It never used to be cold sitting on your roof top/But now I feel the weather/Our fights have fucked our shelter”. But the fact is that every song on ‘In My Dreams’ is as strong as ‘Telephones’ and in many instances even stronger.