GTC REWIND: MO KENNEY Covers
by Walter Price
Let’s be honest with one another, most cover albums are kitsch, if not a bit pandering. Many times releases are crafted to fulfill label obligations or they’re simply laziness. Then, out of the blue, comes a set that is more of a Thank You to those who have inspired. I’m speaking of the new 10-track beauty, aptly titled ‘Covers’, by Nova Scotian songwriter Mo Kenney.
Co-produced by Kenney and Joel Plaskett, ‘Covers’ is a delicate set seeing subtle homages to hallowed songs from the likes of The Kinks (I’m Not Like Everybody Else), Guided by Voices (Game of Pricks), fellow Nova Scotian Seth Smith (Slow Death), and Loudon Wainwright III (The Swimming Song). And they all shine in their respective right. But where this album hits the soul is when Kenney’s calm, at times haunting, voice pays tribute to the late greats of eras past.
1.Thirteen – Big Star
2.Slow Death – Seth Smith
3.Hard on You – Daniel Romano
4.Game of Pricks – Guided by Voices
5.Sour Girl – Stone Temple Pilots
6.Strange Powers – The Magnetic Fields
7.Yer So Bad – Tom Petty + Jeff Lynn
8.You Belong to Me – Patsy Cline
9.I’m Not Like Everybody Else – The Kinks
10.Swimming Song – Loudon Wainwright III
Her version Big Star’s “Thirteen”, Alex Chilton’s ode to adolescent love, is one of the most powerful cover versions to date. Tom Petty’s (co-written by Jeff Lynne) tale of a sister’s ill-fated journey is a stunning lament. And the singer pours her soul into beautifully somber turns on Patsy Cline’s “You Belong to Me” and Stone Temple Pilots’ “Sour Girl”.
While Kenney’s earnest respect is evident throughout this album, it can’t go without saying that the production that lets the stories breathe and letting the instrumentation stay honest, is also a huge part of this set’s introspective magic. And you can stream the LP and see the film for Mo Kenney’s cover of The Magnetic Fields’ “Strange Powers”, directed by Matt Williams, now at the GTC.
MO KENNEY Covers
+ Strange Powers (video)
Artist photo courtesy of Auteur Research
Mo Kenney, vocals and guitar
Track 4: Joel Plaskett, piano
Track 9: Joel Plaskett, organ
Engineered by: Thomas Stajcer, Alex Burris
Mastered by: J. LaPointe at Archive Mastering
Artwork: Matt Williams
Layout: Mat Dunlap
Studio: New Scotland Yard, Dartmouth NS
“Just like a mask—that so-called disguise which, in fact, often reveals something profound and otherwise secret about the individual who wears it—Mo’s upcoming release “ Covers” offers a glimpse into the molecular musical composition of the artist interpreting them…” – bio