The Kennedys

REVIEW: The Kennedys “Headwinds”


The Kennedys – Headwinds

I was always an admirer of Richard & Linda Thompson, Clive Gregson & Christine Collister, Richard & Mimi Farina, Nino Tempo & April Stevens & Golden-Carillo. But when these fine duos split it was hard to find something similar. I always thought The Kennedys were a country duo & was surprised to discover that this duo was an ideal addition to my favorite duos.

Pete Kennedy manages the vast array of guitars, mandolin, ukulele, bass, keyboards, drums & vocals but it’s Maura’s striking warm voice that is their signature. These 13 courses of music were recorded in Tarrytown, NY & produced by The Kennedys.

After a 5-year hiatus from writing & recording the husband & wife team, The Kennedys have noted that the nation’s environment politically & socially has changed. Headwinds (Drops Aug 25–Independent) & its pristine acoustic guitars will be an enlightening experience for aficionados of fine songwriting & singing.

Maintaining their rootsy tradition & with a theme of getting back “home” as a nation this musical incarnation is accomplished & well-arranged. After a 3-decade career, it’s nice to see The Kennedys still have their creativity delivering affirmative songs.

Some have written that they are contemporary but what makes this duo special is that they’re not entirely mainstream or contemporary but a progressive (the word being a musical term, not political) folk rock team that follows their own muse & seldom draws on the sounds of many duos or trios before them.

Unlike Peter, Paul & Mary the team doesn’t inject highly controversial edges into their showcase. They address what’s important to them but choose their approach with diplomacy, the collective challenges & allowing listeners to draw their own conclusions. As it should be.

The Syracuse, NY native Maura & Arlington, VA Pete Kennedy met in Austin, TX & had been members of the late-great Nanci Griffith Blue Moon Orchestra & later supporting Ms. Griffith as a duo. They also produced Nanci’s last album.

Sometimes Maura’s tonality as displayed in the lovely “The Woods and the Wild,” & “Sacramento,” are hauntingly similar in phrasing to Nanci Griffith. Out of influence or tribute? I don’t know. But it just sounds so respectful of another voice. Maura just pulls out the folky aesthetic of Ms. Griffith.

There are light-hearted tunes to break up the seriousness of some of the more affecting tunes. There are moments where they even fill their performance with a folky 60s ambiance. It never sounds retro, just refreshingly nostalgic.

Highlights – “New Set of Wheels,” “Late September Breeze,” “Headwinds,” “The Boy From the East River Shore,” “Sacramento,” “The Woods and the Wild” & “Waging Peace.”

Musicians – Maura (lead vocals/acoustic guitar/harmonica/keys/percussion), Pete (electric, acoustic & lap steel guitars/mandolin/ukulele/bass/keys/drums/vocals) & Vince Santoro (drums on “New Set of Wheels”).

Color CD image by Suzy Allman. There’s a 12pp color stitched lyric insert. The 44-minute CD @ Amazon +

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