A Tale of Two Mo Kenneys
Mo Kenney’s upcoming album showcases a side of her you normally only see live
"Why are there two Mo Kenneys?"
That's the question East Coast Music Hour host Bill Roach asks of the indie folk-pop singer from Nova Scotia. There's the recorded Mo Kenney, often backed by electric guitar. And there's the onstage, stripped down Mo Kenney.
"I was playing with a band the last few years a lot more, but I'm kind of getting back to where I started now and doing a more acoustic thing," Kenney said. "I wanted to record something that reflects that a little better."
The one and only Mo Kenney called into East Coast Music Hour from the New Scotland Yard recording studio in downtown Dartmouth for a chat and to perform two songs.
Kenney has a new album coming out next year that will be all covers, performed with just the basics - her clear, rich voice and a guitar.
"I was in the studio and recorded this right before the pandemic started," Kenney said. She was thinking about doing an acoustic record of her own songs, but ultimately decided it would be more interesting to do an album of covers. "A lot of these songs are songs that I put in my live sets."
Kenney says she grew up listening to old country standards that played on the radio in her grandparents' kitchen. "I don't think I really fully appreciated it back then, but I have a real love for those old country songs now." Her favourite Patsy Cline tune is You Belong To Me - Bill played Mo's own cover on the show. "That song was written in the 50s and it still holds up," she says.
Mo Kenney performs "Game of Pricks" and "Thirteen"
Kenney first performed Game of Pricks, originally by the prolific indie rock band Guided by Voices. She got into the band after musician Joel Plaskett gifted her the vinyl of their 1994 album Bee Thousand for her birthday. Game of Pricks is from their 1995 album Alien Lanes, and her peaceful and melodic cover is much different than the rocking original.
Her second performance was her cover of Thirteen. Originally by the 70s rock band Big Star, Kenney was more familiar with Elliot Smith's cover.
Look for Kenney's album, simply titled Covers, next year — and she says she'll be sharing songs from it here and there until it comes out.
Want to hear more live performances? Check out R&B artist Keonte Beals' episode of East Coast Music Hour here, and catch modern country musician Thomas Stajcer on the show here.