It is entirely appropriate that this fine retrospective collection of sixteen songs should begin its’ journey with the song Half a Million Miles. Not only does it some up the very strong touring ethic displayed over many years by this duo, but it also captures the events surrounding their first meeting and a pilgrimage to the graveside of Buddy Holly.
From this excellent start, Maura and Pete Kennedy work their way through a number of stand- out songs that span their nine studio releases, plus a live recording or two, since the mid 1990’s. Building a loyal and strong following both playing with and supporting country legend Nanci Griffith over the years, The Kennedys display outstanding song-writing sensibilities, coupled with a very melodic approach to the arrangements and production.
Maura is a very talented singer and her sweet delivery sits comfortably alongside the virtuoso playing abilities of husband Pete. Breathe visits the fear that we hold of uncertainty and the way that it can stop us from living our lives to the full – ‘just like being born but you’re wiser this time’.
Matty Groves is a traditional English Folk song that is given a compelling makeover as it spins a tale of jealousy and lust. When I Go is a song that was penned by Dave Carter and colours strong imagery of a life fully lived while the excellent guitar playing of Pete Kennedy serves the tune with some aplomb.
Stand is a live favourite and both life affirming and celebratory in the message. A Bend in the River and Midnight Ghost both set a strong tempo and highlight the fine playing of both Maura and Pete as they swoop and weave around the song dynamics.
It is on the final track, Life is Large, that the full power of this duo is displayed with a live version of their anthem. ‘Be yourself and stand your ground’ sings Maura and you know that she means every word. Everybody should have a little bit of the Kennedys in their life and I recommend this release together with a trawl back through past recordings.
Review by Paul Mcgee