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

coverBy Malcolm Carter, Penny Black Music

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.

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INTRO: IMMER NOCH INDIE? #236 Wir Indies glauben ja noch an die ganz antiquierten Werte wie Sinnlichkeit oder eine Auflehnung, die tatsächlich glückt. Warum? Wegen dieser Platten!

By Christian Steinbrink

Deutlich poppiger, aber kaum weniger reizend klingt die Kanadierin Mo Kenney auf ihrer LP »In My Dreams« (New Scotland). Das ist warm instrumentierter, aber auch variantenreicher Folk-Pop mit einem absolut überzeugenden Songwriting, das sogar ein paar behutsame Hits hervorgebracht hat. So uneingeschränkt angenehm kriegen das sonst nur Skandinavierinnen wie Ane Brun, Nina Kinert oder Emiliana Torrini hin.

For full article, click here.

The Guardian: In My Dreams prescribed in Cerys Matthews’ “music to beat the end-of-summer blues”

Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 4.41.36 PM
Lethargy is a fact of life once the summer holidays are over, but our musical agony aunt’s alter ego has just the remedy

By Cerys Matthews, The Guardian

Dear Doctor, I’m feeling uninspired. Please suggest some music to battle this lethargy.

The Doctor understands: it’s the end-of-summer blues. So make some time and take a jaunt to the local record shop. Walk slowly, and look around as you go. The Doctor likes nothing more than examining plant life, for example. Take moss – bright green and alien-like – which is able to eke out life on stone garden walls. Or the passion flower, which is fruiting now: it’s hard to imagine a stranger or more beautiful bloom. With endless expectations and to-do lists, its easy to forget to wonder at the miracle of life.

Follow this walk of wonder by selecting from some of the best new releases and reissues from around the world. On Far Out recordings, check out Novissima Musica Brasileira, a compilation of great new Brazilian music: I particularly love the muted trumpet and organ stabs on Iconili’s O Rei De Tupanga. Keep your blood flowing with Black Feeling Volume 3, a collection of retro funk soul and Latin from Freestyle Records. Your dance moves will be cooking now, so add Dave Formula and the Finks to the mix, and visit some class grooves, including Cissy Strut, The Cat and One Mint Julep (out now on Motorrad).

Next, settle down with guitar legend John Renbourn’s final offering, The Attic Tapes, out on World Music Network. Read his heartwarming liner notes while you listen to his fingerpicking on Candyman, Buffalo and Blues Run The Game. And if you want to try a new young artist as well, you’ll have to go some to beat the smart songwriting of Nova Scotian Mo Kenney on her album In My Dreams (New Scotland records).

Feeling energised now? Then throw on some ebullient young punks, Philadelphia’s Sheer Mag, with Fan The Flames. That’s bound to get you jumping around your living room, for a little while at least.

In My Dreams featured in R2 Magazine

coverBy Ian Pickles, R2 Magazine

Mo Kenney’s eponymous first album scooped a bucketload of awards and nominations and I’m ashamed to say that it passed me by altogether unnoticed, which makes it really good news that this new disc dropped through the letterbox.

In My Dreams is a forensic dissection of failed relationships, spare and unflinching and full of perceptive thoughts about modern love and manners. Kenney’s songwriting is direct, honest and fearless and she does not choose to censor herself. Of course, it’s dangerous to assume that all or any of her poetry is autobiographical but you wouldn’t want to cross her and get a song written about you, for sure. You’d imagine that she’d think twice before getting mixed up in another messy affair, too.

Highlights are the painfully blunt “Take Me Outside”, which combines confessional lyrics with a cheerful trippy 60s pop vibe: ‘Booze in my veins and blood on the floor’ and ‘Wind Will Blow’, a song of obsessive love – ‘You run right through me like a blade.’ It’s powerful and moving stuff but it never descends into the predictable or maudlin and by the final track, ‘Dancing’, it would appear that Kenney is in love again so it’s a safe bet that there are more sweet and angry songs on the way.

Neue Westfälische: Überragendes neues Album von Mo Kenney

photo-by-Paul-Wright_279-sm“In My Dreams”: Grandiose Pop-Kunst aus Kanada

By Thomas Klingebiel, Neue Westfälische

Bielefeld. Kanada hat die Welt des Erwachsenen-Pop schon reich beschenkt. Leonard Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, k. d. lang – um nur einige zu nennen. An außerordentlichen Talenten, die diese große Tradition fortsetzen, mangelt es nicht. Mo Kenney, eine Singer-Songwriterin aus der Provinz Nova Scotia, bewegt sich mit ihrem überwältigend gelungenen Album „In My Dreams“ trotz ihrer jungen Jahre schon ganz selbstverständlich im erlauchten Bezirk ihrer berühmten Landsleute. Eine faszinierende neue Popkünstlerin.

Das wird gleich im ersten Song deutlich. „I Faked It“ – das unverhohlene Bekenntnis, jemandem von Anfang an Gefühle nur vorgetäuscht zu haben, weil zuvor jemand anders einem selbst ähnlich übel mitgespielt hat. Die eingängige, dennoch ungewöhnliche Melodie steht in ihrer ruhigen Beiläufigkeit in aufreizendem Kontrast zur gesungenen Beichte. Der kraftvoll-reinen, vibratolosen Stimme traut man die Kaltblütigkeit, von der im Song die Rede ist, auch nicht recht zu. Aber das macht den typischen Mo-Kenney-Sound aus, der auch die übrigen Songs des Albums prägt: furchtlose Innenschau, gepaart mit betörendem melodischem Schmelz.

Das folgende „Take Me Outside“ ist die Kehrseite des hartgesottenen Openers: Schuldgefühle, Selbstvorwürfe, in Alkohol ertränkte Einsamkeit. „Take me outside and blow my fucking head off – with your eyes“ lauten die unschlagbar pointierten ersten Zeilen – wiederum in betörendsten Pop-Farben geboten. Zehn Songs, kein einziger Ausfall, ein sorgsam komponiertes Album. Folk-Schlichtheit („Field Song“), gebremster Indierock („Mountains to the Mess“) und radiotauglicher Hit-Kandidat („Telephones“, ein Coversong, zu dem es ein sehenswertes Video auf Youtube gibt) vertragen sich bestens auf dieser Platte, weil alles zu hundert Prozent Mo Kenney ist. Auch den berühmten langgezogenen Sehnsuchtston der Kanadierin k. d. lang, der Kenney in vielerlei Hinsicht gleicht, gibt diese Ausnahme-Stimme her.

Schon als Schülerin fiel die heute 25-Jährige dem kanadischen Rockstar Joel Plaskett bei einem Workshop auf. Plaskett produzierte 2012 ihr folkiges Debüt – ein Versprechen, das „In My Dreams“ nun grandios einlöst. Im Oktober kommt Mo Kenney nach Deutschland. So oder so – nicht verpassen.

Mo Kenney: „In My Dreams“, CD, New Scotland Records

The Revue reviews In My Dreams

By Ben Yung, The Revue

Instead of focusing on a new album release, I’m going to look back at an album that was released almost a year ago to the day in North America but was just released in the United Kingdom in early September.

Mo Kenney has emerged as one of Atlantic Canada’s most beloved singer-songwriters, and her sophomore album In My Dreams was critically acclaimed last year. It was awarded the 2015 East Coast Music Association’s Pop Recording of the Year and her lead single “Telephones” was nominated for Song of the Year. It’s been a terrific twelve months for the 25-year old native of Waverley, Nova Scotia, who currently is in the United Kingdom, touring solo in support of her album.

It only takes a single listen of In My Dreams to understand why thousands of fans across Canada and overseas have been drawn to Kenney, whose folk-pop style is comparable to Joel Plaskett. In addition, like many artists from the east coast, her songs are stories, some personal and many often about other people or characters. The album opens with the smooth and acoustic “I Faked It”, on which Kenney showcases some excellent guitar work. The pop single, “Take Me Outside”, follows, and despite its summery feel Kenney tells the story of a down-on-her-luck individual.

The fantastic “Telephones” anchors the entire album. The song is filled with some terrific lyrics about a broken relationship, such as:

I have a strong heart but you play too rough
You listen to techno I hate that stuff
At people’s parties hey we don’t say much

But when we’re alone together talking like babies
I know just how to keep you in my head
If I had another lover could I keep you on the side

The song also shows one of Kenney’s great strengths – her ability to take simple arrangements and limited instruments to create an infectious melody and a lively mood. She applies the same approach to create a variety of different moves, such as on the mellow but delirious “Field Song”, the dreamy title track, “In My Dreams”, and the lush and beautiful “Wind Will Blow”.

Kenney, though, also expands her musical palette beyond the folk-pop realm. “Mountains To The Messes” is grinding, folk-rock tune. It shows a gritty side of Kenney and one that is blisteringly awesome. “Untouchable”, likewise, is a fantastic, soulful indie-rock number. Kenney’s voice takes on a smokey nature, showing an unexpected diversity that extends well beyond her instruments.

You can catch this rising star right now if you reside in Europe. Kenney only has one North American date on her calendar, but no other dates have been confirmed. See tour dates below.

In My Dreams is out now via New Scotland Records and Pheromone Records. Purchase the album on Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon, and eMusic.

Mo Kenney Tour Dates

Sep 14 Gaslight Club – Leeds, United Kingdom
Sep 15 Servant Jazz Quarters – London, United Kingdom
Sep 18 Levis – Skibbereen, Ireland
Sep 19 Clonakilty International Guitar Festival – Clonakilty, Ireland
Sep 20 Clonakilty International Guitar Festival – Clonakilty, Ireland
Sep 22 Whelan’s Upstairs – Dublin, Ireland
Sep 30 Der Herbst ist eine Frau – Sugenheim, Germany
Oct 04 Privatclub – Berlin, Germany
Oct 05 Nochtspeicher – Hamburg, Germany
Oct 06 Moritzbastei – Leipzig, Germany
Oct 07 Cafe Galao – Stuttgart, Germany
Oct 09 Jazzhaus Freiburg – Freiburg Im Breisgau, Germany
Mar 19 Common Fence Music – Portsmouth, RI

Missy Magazine: „When I said it was forever, I was lying through my teeth“

Drei Fragen an die kanadische Musikerin Mo Kenney, die Lieder über Lügen schreibt.


By MissyRedaktion, Missy Magazine

Viel wissen wir von Mo Kenney nicht. Vor drei Jahren veröffentlichte sie ihr Debütalbum und ist seitdem als sehr ehrliche Sängerin bekannt. Der erste Song auf ihrem gerade erschienenen zweiten Album „In My Dreams“ heißt dementsprechend „I faked it“. Der Song über das Nie-Verliebt-Gewesen-Sein kommt ohne Dramatik aus und überzeugt stattdessen mit leicht resignierter Stimme über einer melancholischen, vorsichtig beschwingten Popmelodie.

Missy: Als musikalisches Vorbild nennen Sie immer wieder Elliott Smith, den Sie entdeckt haben, als sie „The Royal Tenenbaums“ von Wes Anderson geschaut haben, den Sie auch sehr lieben. Welcher Song des neuen Albums würde am besten zu einem Film von ihm passen?

Mo Kenney: Ich denke, keiner meiner Songs würde es je in einen Wes Anderson Film schaffen, aber wenn ich einen auswählen dürfte, wäre es „Pretty Things“.

Schreiben Sie Ihre Songs in einer bestimmten Stimmung? Einem bestimmten Ort?

Ich muss einfach inspiriert sein. Das ist wie mit jeder anderen Form von Kunst, denke ich. Manche Songs sind gut, aber viele der Lieder, die ich schreibe, mag ich am Ende gar nicht. Die Songs, die letztlich auf dem Album landen, sind eigentlich diejenigen, die mir am leichtesten vielen, zu schreiben. Wenn ich Songs schreibe, bin ich fast immer alleine zu Hause.

In „Telephones“ singen sie, dass sie lieber eine Fernsehserie schauen würden, als etwas anderes zu tun. Welche Serie schauen Sie selbst gerade?

Normalerweise schaue ich nicht viel fern, aber ich mochte „Mad Men“ wirklich gerne, als es noch lief. Ich denke, diese Zeit interessiert mich einfach.

Mo Kenney auf Tour:

30.09. – Ingolstadt, „Der Oktober ist eine Frau Festival“
04.10. – Berlin, Privatclub
05.10. – Hamburg, Nochtspeicher
06.10. – Leipzig, Moritzbastei
07.10. – Stuttgart, Cafe Galao
09.10. – Freiburg, Jazzhaus

Mo in The Scottish Metro

Mo - The UniterBy Roger Crow, The Scottish Metro

It’s three years since Mo Kenney burst onto an unsuspecting world with her eponymous debut album. And as every seasoned music fan knows, that inaugural release usually contains decades of emotion, creative energy and the sort of creative spark worthy of a November 5 celebration.

Debut albums, in theory, are easy. Capturing that lightning in a bottle again? Well that’s something else. But you don’t want to read about ‘difficult second album syndrome’. That’s an issue more exhausted than a marathon runner at the finishing line.

Instead, you may be wondering: ‘Who is this Mo Kenney person, and why should I hand over my hard earned cash at her pending gigs in Kinross, Glasgow and Edinburgh?’

Hailing from Nova Scotia, the Canadian singer, songwriter, guitarist and performer won acclaim and awards plenty for her mix of folk and pop.

Spreading her sound to the masses, she traversed Canada with Ron Sexsmith and mentor Joel Plaskett, gracing key festivals in Iceland, England, Australia and across her home country.

Good friends with our own songstress Rachel Sermanni, they toured the UK for six weeks last year, so her latest gigs in this neck of the woods shouldn’t be too much of a culture shock.

UK fans have had to wait almost a year longer than overseas listeners for the follow up project, but new album In My Dreams should contain elements of the same DNA as her breakthrough work; the fingerprints of Canadian rocker Plaskett are all over this like some sort of benign musical crime scene, but it’s also possible to trace hints of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.

At 25, she already has 14 years of guitar experience under her belt, so if you want to hear one of the freshest sounds in town, pick a venue and enjoy.

FATEA reviews In My Dreams

By Leah Parker-Turnock, FATEA

coverIt’s not often an aspiring artist has a famous popular musician come to talk to their class about their craft, it’s even fewer who later get a call-back to say that they are recommending their label sign them up…that however is precisely what happened to the young Canadian singer-songwriter Mo Kenney when East Coast rock icon, Joel Plaskett, paid a visit to her school. Plaskett played a big part in recording Kenney’s lauded debut album Mo Kenney, her second album, In My Dreams, will be released on September 04, a year after its Canadian appearance; again Plaskett is a major contributor playing drums, base and organ on an album cut in his new studio, New Scotland Yard, Nova Scotia.

Who knows why Canada produces so many great female singer-songwriters but Kenney is up there with them all, even if she appears an elfin waif beside the likes of KD Laing. Her insightful and occasionally lacerating lyrics, her tunefulness and her finger-picking guitar perhaps place her in a bracket with the very British Laura Marling.

The album opens with ‘I Faked It’, one of three songs co-written with Plaskett. The lightness of the delivery seems at odds with the meanness of the words until you realise she really just didn’t care – the disregard for the other’s feelings is carried as lightly as the song! The tables are turned on the title track when it’s the songwriter herself who is wistfully wondering whether the relationship matters or even exists.

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