On her third album, The Details—out now on Pheromone Recordings—Halifax singer/songwriter Mo Kenney invites listeners to take a ride on the emotional roller coaster she experienced over the past couple of years. It is mostly a concept album detailing booze-fuelled breakdowns and disintegrating relationships, ultimately leading to redemption.
Needless to say, The Details is simultaneously Kenney’s most personal and adventurous work to date, with elements of hard rock, psychedelia and alt-pop complementing the album’s themes. Produced in collaboration with her longtime mentor Joel Plaskett, the pair decided to create an entirely plugged in sound for the first time, displayed to significant effect on explosive tracks like “On The Roof” and “If You’re Not Dead.” At the same time, Kenney’s folk roots still run deep on the Elliott Smith-esque “June 3rd” and the sparse closer “Feelin’ Good.”
Overall, The Details is another step forward for Kenney who, since first appearing on the scene five years ago, has racked up numerous Music Nova Scotia and East Coast Music Awards, a Canadian Folk Music Award and a Juno nomination. Recently having launched the album with a show in Toronto, Kenney will celebrate its release in Halifax on Nov. 2 with a show at The Seahorse Tavern, with more tour dates to be announced in the new year. For more info, go to mokenney.com.
What makes The Details stand apart from your previous work?
This album is my most cohesive record to date. All the songs follow the same theme. I co-produced this record with Joel Plaskett, which is a first for me. There's a lot more electric guitar than on the other records too, which felt great to do.
What song on the album do you feel best captures your current musical vision and why?
I think “Maybe I Am” is a good little snapshot of where I am right now musically. It's got the dreaminess that I like and the scuzzy rock stuff in the same song.
What are your fondest musical memories as you were growing up?
I remember when I got my first guitar at 11 and how exciting that was for me. I was glued to it. I would invite friends over to hang out and then end up ignoring them and playing the guitar. I knew I had found my “thing” for sure.
What do you recall about your first time performing in public?
The first time I sang live was at a recital in a hall when I was 13. I remember feeling anxious about it all day and then wanting to die when I was up there singing. It was so uncomfortable that I didn’t sing again until I was 16 in high school with my band.
What song by another artist do you wish you had written?
There are so many amazing songs out there, but I am continuously amazed by the songwriting of Gillian Welch. “I Dream a Highway” is about 15 minutes of bliss. Put on your headphones and drift to that.