Music Review: Kenny James

I'm pretty used to artists from all over Canada sending me their new CD, in hopes of a review, a listen, a plug on the radio, whatever I can offer. And of course, I get lots of New Brunswick releases, most I hope, as that's where my priority lies. What I'm not used to is getting someone's CD sent not by the artist, or a manager/promo rep type, but instead, by a fan. Or fans in this case, a couple who knew and liked a guy in their area, and thought I should give him a listen. They are big enough CBC fans to know I hadn't picked up on this Sackville fella, and I have to give a big shout out to them for tipping me off. Thanks David and Diane!

422978_475457429171271_1021646782_a.jpg
It's a debut disc by Kenny James, AKA Kenny James Mikalauskas, from Sackville. The above folks had seen him perform live, and admired his talents so much they were willing to part with their copy of the CD, hoping I'd enjoy it as well. It's a six-track, half-hour set simply called Kenny James, and their hunch paid off, I do like it quite a bit. He's a singer-songwriter with an alternative-country sound, his stated influences ranging from Ryan Adams to Wilco to the Bakersfield sound of Merle, Buck and Dwight. There's an easy gallop to much of the music, stories spilling out from the twangy, good-natured tunes. Pictures Of Rose is a haunted, reverb-heavy Western number, certainly with a touch of The Sadies in it. All In This Together has a garage band feel, down to the crazy organ. Soul Gambler goes back to the 60's too, a shaggy-dog type of tale from the Dylan-goes-electric school, with the organ and bluesy guitar heard on Highway 61 Revisited.

Those are the reference points, but on each number James has his own spin, and lots of strong lyrics. It's intelligent, well-crafted and polished just the right amount, James choosing to give each song a live-in-the-studio feel rather than a slick sheen. Sorry I've been missing out on this for these months, and thanks once again to music fans who love to spread the word.

more »

Latest East Coast Music Reviews

Jane Ehrhardt brings new album home for Bore Music Festival appearance
Jane Ehrhardt brings new album home for Bore Music Festival appearance
Jul 7, 1:10 AM

There's a terrific natural feel to Jane Ehrhardt's new album. The former Monctonian is now one of the leading lights of the Quebec City indie folk scene, now on her fourth album, Water Will Flow. Her songs never feel forced... more »

N.B. Summer Music Festival Guide
N.B. Summer Music Festival Guide
Jul 4, 5:21 PM

The summer music festival scene has exploded in New Brunswick, and there's not a weekend goes by without two or three somewhere in the province. Here's a guide to some of them, if you're looking for great entertainment, beautiful surroundings... more »

Lots of music events this weekend in N.B.
Lots of music events this weekend in N.B.
Jul 3, 1:22 PM

We're really into the swing of things with music events around the province this weekend. Here are a few to check out, depending on your whereabouts, or if you'd like to take a drive. There are many welcome performers showing... more »

The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer will be Harvest favourites
The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer will be Harvest favourites
Jul 2, 1:58 PM

One of my favourite new blues groups in a long while is heading this way soon. The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer have a great name, and even better sound. The name comes from nicknames for the two main instruments... more »

Fred Penner, rock star?  Kids performer headlines Bore Music Festival
Fred Penner, rock star? Kids performer headlines Bore Music Festival
Jun 30, 4:02 PM

Summer music festivals like to have big-name artists as headliners, someone that will draw the largest crowd, build up the excitement, and then rush on at the end of the event, with the biggest sound, lights and cheers. This year,... more »

Kick off the summer with Jenn Russell swing concert in St. Andrews
Kick off the summer with Jenn Russell swing concert in St. Andrews
Jun 27, 1:23 PM

It looks like a glorious weekend coming up in the province, and a long one for some. Organized folks would have taken Monday off, to match up with the Tuesday Canada Day celebration. I'm not organized, of course. But, I... more »

View all reviews for July 2014 »

About Bob Mersereau

Rockin' BobBob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).

Share this review