The Kennedys 'West' - Self-Release

The husband and wife duo of Pete and Maura Kennedy have been plying their trade for some time now and this, their latest album, finds them making music in peak form. An essentially self contained unit of multi-instrumentalist Pete and guitarist/vocalist Maura,  although they do feature some guests on two tracks,  but otherwise it’s all them. The sound here is classic folk rock with hints of 60’s west coast of USA and of UK bands of that era such as Trees. The main difference is that they don’t delve into the vast catalogue of traditional folk songs, rather they write the songs themselves. They do go to outside sources for John Stewart’s The Queen Of Hollywood High and Records member John Wicks’ Perfect Love.

Maura Kennedy’s Signs, replete with electric sitar, highlights her crystal-clear voice and the duo’s sense of melody and mastery of a quintessential essence of their own direction. The bulk of the lead vocals are handled by Maura but Pete takes the occasional lead on songs such as his Jubilee Time. His voice may not have the resonance of Maura’s, but does the job well. Sisters of the Road celebrates the female voice, while the title track is a paean to musical influences that sent them on a journey heading west. Southern Jumbo has a strong country twang that is a delight and recalls the time in the 80s when mainstream country wasn’t all pop and hair rock influenced. It recalls childhood, big guitars and Johnny Cash. 

A short story by B.D. Love inspired Black Snake, White Snake to the extent that Love is given  a writing credit. It has the duality of good and evil represented by two snakes as its subject. The electric sitar is central to its supernatural dreamscape. Bodhisattva Blues imagines Doc Watson and American mythologist Joseph Campbell exchanging ideas and ideals for a songwriting session. The penultimate songs are the two covers. The Queen of Hollywood High features the late Stewart’s band and is a solid groove in Southern California mode. Perfect Love is a Byrdsish  flight of harmony vocals and 12 string guitars. The closing track could well sum up the album overall. Good, Better, Best might suggest their musical development and this album could easily be argued to fit that latter word.