A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
The Kennedys' latest album Evolver is subtitled A New Kind of Music. Both the title and subtitle are quite appropriate. The Kennedys, who are perennial winners of WAMMIES (Washington Area Music Awards, D.C.'s local version of the Grammys), take their acoustic roots into territory that is more true to their 60's-influenced pop music. Make no mistake, Evolver is more produced and would sound more at home on adult contemporary radio than on NPR. Nevertheless, the evolution works in this context. With a cutesy voice (think the Bangles' Suzanna Hoffs), Maura Kennedy sings the lead song, Pick You Up, which is pure unadulterated pop, and would make a great summer cartop-down sing-along single. Another good candidate for radio would be the uplifting Can't Kill Hope with a Gun. The richness of the sound characterizes Evolver, as noted by the girl-group harmonies on Keep The Place Clean.
Pete Kennedy, formerly of Nancy Griffith's and Mary Chapin-Carpenter's bands, is the Jimi Hendrix of the acoustic 12-string guitar - he can make sounds come from acoustic guitars that no one else can. Good Morning Groovy and the instrumental The Girl with the Blonde Eye are nice showcases for his talent. The Girl with the Blonde Eye and the Sheryl Crow soundalike Mr. Lucky Man would fit comfortably on the soundtrack for the next Bond movie. Picture a silhouetted Maura singing the song as the opening credits roll. Pete and Maura's voices blend in a CSNY-styled Here Without You.
Pete and Maura Kennedy write positive music - no self-introspective drivel or overindulgent lyrics characteristic of some singer-songwriters. Thus, the happy pop song is the perfect vehicle for their music. The Kennedys do such a good job at imitating styles, don't be surprised if the songs sound somewhat familiar, like listening to the bygone days of AM radio. The Kennedys are unapologetic throwbacks to the 60's, but with enough of a dose of contemporary music to make it sound hip.
Edited by Roberta B. Schwartz