There are some things you can always count on. The comfort of a hot drink on a cold day, everything resolving itself after a good night’s sleep, and Maria Doyle Kennedy providing an impressive collection of songs with each new album release. Her newest album, Maria Doyle Kennedy, is her ninth release by her own indie label – Mermaid Records – and it certainly lives up to expectations.
Kennedy’s self-titled album truly has it all. There are songs to make you groove, to mellow you out, to get lost in, and to make you cry. There are songs that will fill your heart, and a song that has the ability to stop you cold in your tracks. If you want to go on a journey of beautifully crafted music, stellar lyrics, and a voice filled with soul, then Maria Doyle Kennedy’s latest release is a necessary addition to your library. To quote one of Kennedy’s tracks, this album gives me “All the Feels.”
The album kicks off with “Ladies of Bohane” – a song inspired by the book City of Bohane by Kevin Barry. The music and lyrics paint such a vivid image in my mind. I immediately downloaded the novel to see if what I was imagining fit the world of Bohane. No spoilers, but Kennedy’s song completely captures the essence of Barry’s story. Now, I am left to hope for a badass Bohane TV show featuring Kennedy’s song as the theme. Someone make this happen!
The album definitely offers songs to completely get lost in the groove. I love a song that offers the ability to take me away and completely make me float above the world around me. Songs that make me want to grab a whiskey, close my eyes and do a strange little quasi-dance while only holding onto the soundscape and words floating around me. For me, “Little Bee” fits this bill perfectly.
While there are the songs that allow me to escape, there are a few songs that drag me right back to earth and anchor me down until the very last note plays. One of these tracks is “Pride” – a song written during the campaign for the marriage equality referendum in Ireland. “Pride” makes my heart swell, and I have been incessantly sharing the single with my friends. This song is a constant reminder of how far we are moving forward.
On the other hand, the song “Colour Code / These Streets Are Always Blue“ reminds me of how far we have yet to go. It is a song about racial injustice, written in response to the death of Sandra Bland and others in the United States. “Colour Code” turns the swell of my heart from “Pride” to a vibrant ache as I hear the names of souls that have been lost. I have yet to not be stunned into silence after listening to that song; it is the masterpiece of this album.
The soulfulness and warmth in Kennedy’s voice take her music even beyond the exquisite writing. She sings with such honesty, which is a quality I hear in artists like Bobbie Gentry, Sinead O’Connor and Patti Smith. While their voices are so different, they all have the ability to make the listener become emotionally invested in such an effortless way.
Kennedy is one of those artists whose albums are each so unique that they have the ability to transport me back in time with every listen. Whether it be back to my college days, a relationship, or moving to a new city, I am always reminded of where I was in life when I first listened to it. Something tells me this album will offer me the same journey years down the road.
Artist: Maria Doyle Kennedy
Album: Maria Doyle Kennedy
Label: Mermaid Records
Standout tracks: “Colour Code”, “Pride”, “Song for the Gone”
Available at: iTunes, Amazon