Mo Kenney promises rocker when she brings The Details to the Horseshoe Tavern
Award-winning musician Mo Kenney is in Toronto tonight at the venerable Horseshoe Tavern on the heels of the release of her new album The Details, out Sept. 29 on Pheromone Recordings. It’s an album with more guitar, more rock and more, well, Kenney. The Dartmouth, Nova Scotia native says the new record is the closest approximation yet of the kind of music she wants to make, and one that saw her take much firmer control of the production from start to finish.
“I co-produced this record, and dong a lot of demoing on my own in my apartment,” says Kenney. “And I just feel like it’s taken me this long, writing music and making records, to figure out what I really want to be doing. And I feel like this record is as close as I’ve gotten so far to the kind of music I want to make.”
One thing that has not changed is the lyrics, characterized by her candor, dry wit, and often shockingly honest and raw emotion.
“That’s just the well that I draw from for inspiration,” she says. “It’s very introspective. The reason why I started writing in the first place is to make sense of myself, and that’s still how I write.”
Kenney speaks openly about her battles with depression over the years, especially as a teenager.
“It was kind of like a decade long rough patch,” says Kenney, who explains that the record is about a particular wave of depression that returned in her early ’20s. But, she finds hope and happiness at the end. The album as she says “a happy ending.”
“I did start writing songs when I was feeling crappy, and those were kind of sad, and not as hopeful as those I was writing after therapy,” she says. “So I had this collection of tunes, and I realized there was this contrast. And I wasn’t sure how that was going to work, but it just made sense to have a kind of arc.”
And, let’s be honest, it’s a great record. It’s emotional, funny, insightful and a great listen. She describes it as a concept album, and even included a couple of short and wonderful song vignettes including “Cat’s Not A Cake” that are utterly charming.
It’s an amazing how far she’s come since releasing her debut in 2012 under the guidance of East Coast musical guru Joel Plaskett. Her song “Sucker” won the 2013 SOCAN songwriting prize. In 2014, she released In My Dreams.
Kenney's confidence is growing with each new project, and there is no denying she is hitting her songwriting stride on The Details.
“It’s just taken me this long to build up the confidence, and not feel afraid to write what I really want to write, and it’s really paid off,” says Kenney. “I feel so proud of this album; it’s my favourite thing I’ve done so far.”
Kenney was in Toronto this week for an appearance on the Strombo Show, which landed on the same day musical icon Tom Petty passed away, and she had the opportunity to cover one of his songs for the appearance.
"He has been a big part of my life, definitely," she says. "I've listened to Tom Petty since I was a teenager, and he was just part of the soundtrack to my teens and his music was really important to me. So, I got to play "Mary Jane's Last Dance," which is my absolute favourite Tom Petty song so that was pretty special."
Kenney plays the Horseshoe tonight, and she says fans should expect a “rocker.” See you there.