Banish The Blue Days
Lonely Street Records
Classy and Easy On The Ear Jazzy-Folk .
This album was first recorded and released in 2008 but subsequently becoming a part-time band member and full-time wife of Northern Irish singer-songwriter Bap Kennedy, it has lain dormant ever since; which is a damn shame.
Brenda Kennedy is an accomplished bass player in her husband’s band and also a purveyor of exquisite harmonies on his recordings; I had no idea she had actually recorded an album of her own.
The album opens with some swish Gypsy Jazz fiddle and guitar before Brenda comes in with a sweet, easy going ‘dinner Jazz’ vocal style; reminiscent of Julie London and later there are a few trumpet breaks that come straight out of the Chet Baker play book. Banish The Blue Days is actually quite a deep song played out to a lovely melody; which took me by surprise when I dug a little deeper under the surface than usual.
Even on the first play I had a lump in my throat listening to Angel of My Heart. A mother singing to her child as Rod McVey gently plays a piano; is heart rendering especially as the lyrics err on the side of the child ‘not being perfect’ to others; but a Mother’s love knows no boundaries.
Brenda’s Irish-Folk Roots show on the Celtic Love song, Macushla. Images of mist swept valleys, ice cold rivers and a maiden being swept off her feet by a returning lover are conjured up as the singer’s voice sounds like a pearl wrapped in velvet.
Her voice sounds close to breaking on Drink to Me Only and I’m sure the sad story will touch the hearts of many who listen.
Never an album you can dance to; Brenda somehow manages to keep her saddest songs for the tail end; with I’m Sorry being not just a heartbreaker but a tale of making a heart actually crumble at the end of a once loving relationship.
Then the pace slightly picks up, as a maudlin accordion and brushed drums accompany Brenda on the lovely finale Moonshine on the Lake, with its echoes of Cara Dillon and Thea Gilmore.
While all of the songs have their Roots in Folk Music; this is far from being a Folk album. It manages to straddle several genres including light-Jazz and even a smidgen of Country music here and there, but it’s always a singer-songwriter telling stories; and I heartily recommend this album to anyone with a heart.
Re-released August 1st 2015