april 2008

The Kennedys
Appleseed Recordings

With songs inspired by their dreams, Pete and Maura Kennedy meld '60s rock, folk and country into a stunning concept album that takes the listener from the footloose frolic of not-so-long-ago into a world of abridged civil liberties, before concluding on an upbeat note with a bracing appeal for peace. The optimistic, go-for-it counsel of the stomping opener, "Breathe," mutates seamlessly into the frothy, sunny, Katrina & the Waves-like power pop of the delightful "Speed of Soul," with its energetic, chanting girl-group chorus and jaunty banjo and mandolin lines adding to the propulsive entreaty that ends with a cute, girlish giggle-it's all so 9/10. But the melancholy folk ballad, "No Mornings," suggests the persistence of an unsettling dream, which in turn becomes reality with a rough-edged, Creedence-tinged country rocker, "Give Me Back My Country," that finds Maura crying out, "...give me back my country/and the sweet breath of freedom from the Bill of Rights." Fully referencing a post-9/11 world now, the Kennedys lay it on in "American Wish," evoking Woody Guthrie, speaking truth to power in the restrained, acoustic-driven fury and twang of the soundscape as Maura bemoans "the voice of the people silenced by the powerful few." Then, in "Sago Mine," gut-string guitar and a stark, piercing banjo heighten the descriptions of horror below and terror above as experienced by the victims (alive and dead) of that recent tragedy. Yet daybreak looms, and with it hope, articulated so sweetly in the beautiful, if somewhat bleak, country ballad, "Light My Way," in the jubilant assertion of reconciliation expressed in the jaunty country of "In My Dreams," and in the spiritual solace of the Eastern-tinged meditation "Kindred Spirits" and the ethereal, Pink Floyd-ish otherworldly instrumental coda, "Pacé." What have dreams wrought? Some kind of masterpiece.—David McGee


Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (www.johnmendelsohn.com)
Website Design: Kieran McGee (www.kieranmcgee.com)
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY; www.flickr.com/audreyharrod), Alicia Zappier (New York)
E-mail: thebluegrassspecial@gmail.com
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024