Mo Kenney

Venue: Sneaky Pete's
Town: Edinburgh
Dates: 10/9/15

From Nova Scotia, Mo Kenney is one of Canada's most promising young singer-songwriters. Her highly individual songs occupy the territory between folk and pop, with occasional indie/rock overtones. Under the watchful eye of her mentor and producer, Joel Plaskett, Mo has released two albums to date, 2014's "Mo Kenney" and the recent "In My Dreams", both of which have been acclaimed by Canada's ECMA (East Coast Music Association) as Pop Recordings of the Year. Mo Kenney was introduced to UK audiences in early 2014 when she toured with her good friend, the highly-rated Scottish singer-songwriter Rachel Sermanni. After an absence of around a year and a half, Mo Kenney returned to Sneaky Pete's in Edinburgh on 10th September, during a tour of the UK and Germany to promote her new "In My Dreams" album.

Mo Kenney is an assured and engaging performer, with a ready wit and a good line in stories and banter. Many of the songs on her albums have a full-band sound, due to her own accomplished guitar and keyboards and contributions from Joel Plaskett on a wide range of instruments and backing vocals, but this solo gig showed that the quality of the songs is such that they sound equally good as stripped-back acoustic versions. Indeed, the minimal accompaniment allowed Mo to show the full range of her rich and expressive vocals.

Drawing equally from both of her albums, with a cover of Joel Plaskett's "Somewhere Else" added to the mix. The songs were uniformly excellent, providing memorable hooks and skilful guitar work. The highlights from this top-quality repertoire included the caustic "I Faked It" ("…when I left you, you were stumbling in the dark, I'm not sorry that it hurt when I took your heart apart…"); the enigmatic and Simon & Garfunkel-esque "Eden"; the wistfully yearning "In My Dreams" ("…I'm beginning to think you only exist in my dreams…"); the rhythmic and catchy single, "Telephones", (a cover of a Mardeen song, with all of the humour and lyrical directness you'd expect from Mo herself); the ragtime swagger of "The Happy Song"; Sucker" (one of Mo's early songs, whose breeziness belies the quiet pain in the lyrics ..."….why'd you leave me in this place? why'd you have to go away?....hey, I'm a sucker for your face…."); and the clever twists and turns and changes of tempo in the sprawling and defiant "Déjà Vu".

Mo Kenney is steadily growing in stature as a songwriter, singer, guitarist and performer. Canada has produced a steady stream of celebrated singer-songwriters over the last few decades and Mo Kenney undoubtedly has the talent and potential to take her place alongside them in the future.

David Ferguson

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I Faked It

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