Keith Kenny is back with nine songs recorded live at John And Peter’s in New Hope, PA. Distributed by Hit Play Records (a subsidiary of Sony Music), Keith takes the listener on a wild ride through stylistic and musically diverse selections of life. Kenny has quite the reputation as a soloist that makes huge sounds with an acoustic guitar and a few pedals. The New Jersey native can emulate the sound of a full rock band with his percussive fingerstyle approach to the acoustic guitar and an array of effects generators. Kenny even customized a vintage red suitcase to use as a kick drum that has appeared with him on stage for over a decade of live performances.
Keith Kenny has been a Shoreworld subject several times over the past decade, and it is with great pleasure that I continue that tradition with his latest live recording. During his most recent Big Red Suitcase tour, Kenny performed in over 50 U.S. cities from coast to coast and was invited to headline a series of benefits concerts in SE Asia. In recent years he has shared the stage with the likes of Keller Williams, Leon Russell, John Hammond Jr., New Riders Of The Purple Sage, The Zen Tricksters and John Kadlecik (Further & Dark Star Orchestra).
With an influential voice that lies somewhere between Neil Young and Ben Bridwell, Kenny delivers clear and concise visions of dynamic deliverance. Combining a deep dive into tone, originality and believability, he ushers the listener into his brand new living room of roots-riddled rock and roll. Never going to the standard attack, he flies far from the 12-bar blues, three-chord rock and Americana stereotype to land some place between a rock and a new place. The album illustrates 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 Kenny reach exciting new levels as he helps future fans “see the light” of his musical message.
Kicking things off is “Remember Pain.” Utilizing the sound of a distortion-laced Les Paul, Kenny fires off his special brand of rock and roll salvation with the grace and style of Neil Young. Keith’s voice is full and powerful, commandeering the track and leaving no doubt to his talent and directive. Guitar work is reminiscent of Earl Slick as he vamps hot chords throughout the piece. I love the suitcase bass drum that is employed throughout the song and disc.
“Technology” is up next. Kenny excels when it comes to coming up with cutting-edge licks. Using his repeater pedal, Keith lays down overdubbed live parts that sound natural and toned. His slide playing is over the top and blends in well with his lead parts. Kenny tells the story of our technological growth and the end results of its existence.
“Filling Holes” follows. Utilizing his vast understanding of imagery, Kenny lays down some serious lyrical messaging on this tune. His call and response vocals set well within his acoustic riff playing and leave the listener wanting much more. Once again, his suitcase drumming sounds extremely realistic and ties in like gangbusters. His live overdubs come off flawlessly and add to an already full palette of wondrous sounds.
Keith digs into the blues on “Question The Beat Of My Heart.” Combining guitar riffs with matching vocal tones, Kenny rolls out his solo magic with a flawless application. His suitcase drums are back and add depth and power. Keith explores the age-old exploration of love and romance here, and it’s a short, sweet view into everything we look for in our lives.
“Midnight Spiders” is up next and features an interesting chord and vocal vamp. Kenny’s lyrical take on human emotions is always fascinating as he uses this vehicle to mix the depressive descriptive of relationship woes with the use of arachnids.
“Dream Awake” is my favorite tune on the disc. Keith Kenny mixes his Neil Young vocal sensibilities with the guitar dexterity of Jimmy Page on this song. This is another aim of relationships gone awry, a subject the Keith has perfected in compositional form. At 3:00, “Dream Awake” is one of the shorter songs on the disc, but it’s definitely one of the best.
“Bad Medicine” follows. As it’s a live recording, Keith invites audience participation to the highest degree. He starts the song with his multi-layering process of guitar and sound, winding things up in measured pace. When he kicks in, guitars and drums are at a fever pitch as Kenny extols the virtues of the girl who gives bad medicine. The audience participation in the bridge reaches a fever pitch as Keith implores them to scream as loud as they can before heading into the back nine of this raw, ripping tune.
“TNT” is up next and jumps straight into the wild, party-like fray that Kenny had created with his fans. “TNT” is descriptive of Keith Kenny’s self-described abilities with the ladies, and he has no issue telling you that. Once again Kenny employs the crowd for his bridgework, getting several good choruses out of them before heading back into his ending.
“A Roxbury Tale” follows and closes out this live disc. Kenny utilizes his old-school acoustic guitar skills to great measure here. Toned and loud, Kenny’s six-string talent matches his vocal abilities perfectly.
Keith Kenny is a talented musician out on the road making it in his own distinct way. This live recording shows both talent and audience love of their musical hero, and the interplay is outstanding and magical.
Keith Kenny will be celebrating the release of his live disc on Friday, Sept. 25, at John And Peter’s in New Hope, PA. No cover charge at the door and donations are appreciated. Keith will be playing two sets of music and doors are at 9 p.m. There will be a limited number of Special Edition albums available for sale to show attendees. The Special Edition will have five additional tracks and a DVD with concert footage and interviews. Each album will be signed and numbered. They will only be available at the John And Peter’s show.
The standard live album will have nine tracks and will be available to the public on Sept. 25 via keithkenny.com, iTunes, Spotify and other digital retailers. Presale for the live album starts Sept. 1.