Album Reviews

Maura Kennedy

Artist:     Maura Kennedy

Album:     Villanelle: The Songs Of Maura Kennedy & B.D. Love

Label:     Varese Sarabande

Release Date:     05/12/2015

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In the age of the mass hysteria of Dancing with the Stars and The Voice, it is a serious reset for me to reluctantly proclaim the arrival of new Kennedys Music. No, seriously. I’ve been an acolyte of Pete and Maura Kennedy’s pure-hearted, twangy folk/rock Zen for decades now and when word crossed the wire of Kennedy’s new release, I wanted to, I needed to, rejoice.

But dammit, I don’t know where I stand with Villanelle. The exquisitely ruminative “Bicycles with Broken Spokes,” “Villanelle,” “Darling Cutter,” “I Cried To Dream Again,” “Fireflies,” and the elegantly mournful “Soldier’s Wife” all seem to hold to Kennedy’s higher goal to “not write standard song forms around author B.D. Love’s poetry, free verse and sonnets.” And then (and it troubles me to say this) its generic blues, hootenanny, and pop/rock/folk. Sure, it’s all sun in Kennedy’s remarkably clear, impossibly hopeful, crystal-clarion voice, while Pete supplies his trademark gifts on guitars, banjo, mandolin, etc., but the disc just doesn’t sound complete. Or ultimately satisfying. And that is something I never thought I’d say in a review about any music related to the Kennedys.

—Mike Jurkovic

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3 Responses

  1. Did you even listen to this cd or just jump straight to your woefully inaccurate narrative? Were you maybe late on a deadline? I have listened. Many times.I love and respect music and I believe that your failure to even mention “Borrowed Dress” indicates your lack of knowledge of music and also your lack of respect. Perhaps going in with even a slight awareness of Maura’s previous work found you resistant to the change as b.d.love’s words combined with the obvious talents of “The Kennedys” takes their music to an entirely different, and marvelous, level.Do yourself a favor and listen again. This time with an open mind.

  2. Did you listen to the same album I listened to? Villanelle is the antithesis of generic. There is not much else out there similar. What song would you call Hootenanny? Which would you call pop? I called it art songs.

  3. I have a terrible tendency to get on to a band after it has been around a while and has evolved a bit. I miss the excitement of early discovery when that happens, but at the same time I am not burdened with trying to force the band to “live up” to an earlier style that it may have grown out of, in terms of my own expectations. Thus it is with Maura Kennedy, and The Kennedys. If you pick up with them about the time of Maura’s first solo album, Parade of Echoes, and then listen to their latest duo effort, Closer Than You Know, and now Villanelle, their storied folk-rock past ceases to matter much. Taken for what it is, the music on these three albums, in particular, has moved into a realm some have called chamber-folk. It’s idiosyncratic, rather lush, and gorgeous. It’s just not what they were doing when they made Life is Large. Taken on its own terms, it soars.