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Maura Kennedy
Parade Of Echoes
Review By Steven Stone
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  Whenever one half of a husband/wife team I admire puts out a solo album I worry. What if they've ceased to be a couple? Fortunately, on Maura Kennedy's latest release, Parades of Echoes, Pete Kennedy's guitars, production chops, and general spousal support are still very much with us. But on Parades of Echoes Maura Kennedy handles 90% of the project including playing most of the instruments as well as engineering and producing the album.

For readers unfamiliar with the Kennedys, they have been making music together since 1992. They met in Austin, TX., while Pete was taking a break from playing with Nanci Griffith's band. When Iris Dement left to start her solo career, Pete recommended Maura as her replacement. Pete and Maura also formed a warm-up band to open for Nanci. Some of that material found its way onto their first album, River of Fallen Stars (1995). Since then, Pete and Maura have released nine albums together. Last year Pete released his first solo album in 16 years, Guitarslinger, so the time was right for Maura to do the same. Her album was written on a self-imposed one-song-a-month schedule and completed in the fall of 2009.

Subtitled "Powerful Pop For Serious People," Parades of Echoes combines compelling melodies with sharp lyrics. The opening song, "The Thing with Feathers," begins with an eerie single note bass thump upon which Kennedy builds a pulsing and mysterious aural landscape. "Sun Burns Gold" starts with nothing more than Maura's lead vocals and a single acoustic guitar, but by the end of the tune she's added multiple guitars, pedal steel, drums, and assorted percussion parts. But even at their densest, Kennedy's orchestrations still have enough air and space to allow her vocals and lyrics to stay in the forefront. And what vocals they are Kennedy may not have an American Idol perfect voice; she doesn't need one. Instead she wields her vocals like a well-honed blade. The result is music with an unadorned directness that most pop music lacks. Serious indeed.

 

 

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