I’m not nostalgic at all. I have absolutely no interest looking back. If I fell into that Hot Tub Time Machine, I’d beg you to step on my neck until I stopped moving.
My trepidation is not some carpe diem like nonsense. It’s that the regrets and the bad decisions still sting. The good, sure, it was there, but those “remember when we …” moments will never surpass the riches that define my life now. But the bad, those moments never seen to go away and like achy knees or backs, the pain gets worse with age. The people I hurt with words to which I barely gave a second thought, the person I was or thought I should be? Those are infinitely more embarrassing than bad hair (which I certainly had), poor fashion choices (which I certainly made) or typical growing pains.
It’s not that I think Mo Kenney, the talented beyond her years song writer from Dartmouth, has it all figured out yet. No one does and honestly, no oneever will, but when you hear the confidence you can’t help but be envious. To write a song like “Eden”, a seemingly effortless but unique combination of Nico and Elliott Smith’s signatures is impressive (to write it in High School is even more staggering), but when you listen to her new, Joel Plaskett produced debut you realize that singular melody is just the tip of the iceberg.
As you might expect, the LP has its fair share of delicate picks and sad songs, but never does the record come off as pedestrian or formulaic. The rubber band bounce of “Sucker”, a deceptively poppy melody of watching love fall apart, benefits from the brisk pace, the metronome beat and sound effect of “The Happy Song” thicken up the mix and the hazy outro of “In My Lungs.” Most importantly, the simple songs showcase Mo’s fantastic voice, one that’s able to handle atmospheric and stark, open space equally well.
And while Mo’s delicate picked songs are as adorable as they are engaging, when she plugs in and plays with a backing band, she more than holds her own. “The Great Escape”, a dark and revealing song, moves fast and hits hard, but it’s “Deja Vu” that provides the most pleasant surprise. Producer Joel Plaskett (no stranger to large hooks and singalongs), offers backup vocals and Mo goes toe to toe with the seasoned vet, never once sounding like a supporting player.
When it comes time to look back, I don’t think Mo is going to be saddled with the regrets that plague most of us. She’s obviously had her heart broken and already realized life throws huge haymakers, but the comfort she has in her own skin, the way she carries herself makes you realize she’ll be okay with what ever cards she’s dealt. That’s something I wish I learned many years ago.