Keith Kenny has never relied on the promptness of strangers and musicians. And while has used a band for several previous releases, on And The Light Came Blaring In, Kenny relies more on his lone power of compositional grit than his usual fret board grandeur.
On the creation of this disc, Kenny says, “The album was recorded a bit differently than my older ones that were done with a full band. For this one I wanted to capture what the live solo show sounds like so it’s basically just me playing guitar and singing while playing a kick-drum and a hi-hat.”
With the influential voice that lies somewhere between Neil Young and Ben Bridwell, Keith Kenny delivers clear and concise visions of dynamic musical deliverance. Never going for the standard attack, Kenny flies far from the 12-bar blues, three-chord rock and Americana stereotype to land some place between a rock and a new place.
His guitar style is unique and I’ve watched him shred heavy on a Martin acoustic, strumming and bashing away with the finesse of “Dimebag” Darrell.
But Kenny shows a more seasoned side on And The Light Came Blaring In. Combining a deep dive into tone, originality and believability, Kenny ushers the listen into his brand new living room of roots riddled rock and roll.
The disc opens with a sonic Stratocaster shuffle of “Living In Circles.” This gritty ball of fuzz pushes air out of the speakers as Kenny sings simple, effective lines about the wants and needs of life. Syrupy, Les Paul tones congeal the middle-eight like Randy Bachman’s work on “American Woman.” Rhythm guitars rip into the open spaces like a badger as Keith builds back up to his foot stomping finale. Great use of compositional direction and some forward thinking choruses.
Harmonic pings ride the laid-back stick and snare ramble of “Filling Holes.” Countrified pull off riffs dribble down over the heartbeat of the bass drum as Kenny slides into his best Neil Young-influenced (Buffalo Springfield) warble. Strummed chords ring open and full as Kenny slashes his down stroke signature over call and response warnings of “I started digging holes many years ago/I still don’t know where I belong/If you try to make it you better get in line/Hope I don’t fall in tonight.” Dissonant ending chords put the icing on the cake.
“Question The Beat Of My Heart” is pure High Plains Drifter material. I picture this as the thematic backdrop of outlaws racing across Tombstone flats. An ode to highs and lows of love, Kenny questions the very essence of that journey and what it takes to get there. Seasoned wood groans and shimmers under the ministrations of Keith Kenny’s Tex-Mex skills.
“Dream Awake” is the focus of this disc. Mixing the warm, analog visions of ‘70s America with the melodic alternative of Band Of Horses, Keith downshifts into the lazy, hazy daydream states of day-tripped shimmer. Guitar work soars in the middle eight. Simple and sustainable lead lines go for days as Kenny comes down to earth to ponder the brief trip through dream state with, “And I woke up from the dream to realize, it wasn’t really me.”
This is an interesting record. Keith doesn’t stutter when it comes to walking down the pathway of continuity. But he doesn’t make the mistake of having every song sound the same for the sake of style or production. Disc title song, “And The Light Came Blaring In,” proves that with golden summer sound of early ‘70s rock. Chords in the chorus are immensely pleasing with their jazz inflections. 6th’s, 9th’s and 7th’s explode in diminished glory. Kenny’s melodic choices reminds me of a few prominent singers but honestly, he melds influence so well I can only credit Kenny himself. This would be my second choice for most memorable on the disc and one that I have added to my top-secret playlist that no one knows about.
“Carved In Stone” features a loose and open bass drum meter as Kenny lays guitar and vocal in a direct line with each other. Acoustics sparkle and glimmer as Kenny waxes poetic on the content of acceptance and a place to hang his hat. The chorus is catchy and keeps this wandering minstrel off of the main path and into the luxurious and folksy field of daisies.
Keith Kenny ends his CD on a manically high note with “Love Will Go The Distance.” Singsongy and bright, he proves that while he is excellent with an effect board the size of China, he’s equally at home with a single acoustic guitar and his voice. And The Light Came Blaring In was not a surprise to me. Kenny is a highly skilled writer who utilizes the same down-home approach in his music as he does with his day-to-day interactions with others. It’s a combination that will continue to see him reach exciting new levels as he helps future fans “see the light” of his musical message.
You will be able to see Keith Kenny re-create these songs and more at his May 15 appearance at Urban Nest, located at 631 Lake Avenue in Asbury Park. For information on Kenny and his new disc, AndThe Light Came Blaring In, head over to keithkenny.com.
Mike Montrey – Paying It Forward In Remembrance Of Family
New Jersey musician Mike Montrey recently lost his sister-in-law in a battle with cancer. She was diagnosed last year, and it took her quickly. She was only 35 years of age.
As a musician, Mike Montrey pays homage to her in the best way he knows how, which is performing the music from his heart.
Mike said to me, “Sara was a wonderful soul, full of adventure and optimism; she is one that the world will truly miss. Our goal is to bring awareness to this awful disease, and raise funds for the foundation she so strongly supported, the Boys & Girls Clubs Of America.”
To that end, Montrey and the band will be hosting a benefit show that will take place this Saturday at The Old Bay in New Brunswick, NJ. The show will feature several special guests.
Montrey, who is still deep in the middle of his Song By Song By Song series, will celebrate track number five at this tribute. The tune is called “Providence Of Compromise,” and features artwork created for that specific release.
Showtime is 10 p.m.—two sets. Admission is $4, but there will be options to contribute more at the door, and a 50/50 raffle as well, and all proceeds are going to benefit the cause. The entire performance is being recorded via video and audio for a subsequent release to further support the cause. Several of the songs will be included on the live portion of the Song By Song By Song project as well.
Come join the Mike Montrey Band, chip in for a good cause, and help celebrate the rich and treasured life of Sara Montrey. Mike Montrey can be reached by going to mikemontrey.com.
The Old Bay is located on 7 Church Street and can be contacted at oldbayrest.com or by going old-school and dialing them at 1-732-246-3111.