Live at Aeolian Hall

Mo KenneyJump to Info for Mo Kenney

Wednesday September 18, 2024
8:00 pm   |  Doors Open @ 7:00 pm
$30 Advanced    $35 Doors   

On their fifth studio album, From Nowhere, Mo Kenney embraces the textures of ambiguity and the rich blur of being, failing, and becoming. As they shift through lush arrangements that touch on dreamy folk, sparse alt-country, and warm, hazed-out lo-fi pop, everything is up for interpretation and nothing is fixed. In their lyrics, Kenney opts instead to defy definition, making room for non-linear and fragmentary sentiments that challenge their own feelings about personal growth, acknowledge the slippery and shadowy nature of memory, and build love songs that conjure the bonds of friendship just as much as they hint at romance. 

They evade easiness right from the start in the glowing chorus of opening track “Bad Times,” admitting, over sparse piano and despite 4 years of sobriety: “I know it ain’t right, but I miss the bad times sometimes.” 

“I sort of thought that getting sober was going to fix all my problems with relationships, and then I would just be fine,” Kenney laughs. “Drinking was causing all the issues I was having, but it was just the tip of the iceberg; quitting made all my problems more clear but didn’t resolve any of them.”

Kenney’s subsequent investigations into the root causes of their interpersonal dramas obscured nearly as much as they revealed, encouraging acceptance but also emphasizing the frequently frustrating uncertainty and temporality of things. From Nowhere occupies that liminal and trepidatious time when one is compelled to move but unsure where they might be headed. The driving “Evening Dream” has all the hallmarks of a post-summer come-down as Kenney reminisces about the nebulous feelings of flings: “Bathing in the pale green light, no thought of what goes on outside,” they sing. “No thought of what it all might mean, it doesn’t have to meet a thing.” On the darker sounding “Signs of Life,” they address an unbearable and obscure fissure; with the title track, they recall a loss of innocence in idyllic rural Nova Scotia, mixing sun-kissed organ with cryptic, unsettling choruses. 

With the stark and devastating pairing of “Honey Come Home” and “Self Doubt,” Kenney makes it clear that there’s no glory or revelation in sitting with your feelings. While the former distills the loneliness and alienation of a partner’s absence, the latter finds Kenney struggling with the crippling second-guessing that can accompany certain acute kinds of clarity as they barely raise their voice above a whisper in what sounds like the saddest honky-tonk on Earth. Through the hazy atmospheres of “That’s Not Me,” they conjure a slow motion crawl through a dim club and question their identity. And the similarly unhurried “With You” delivers a crushing post-mortem about a relationship that, despite its sweetness, just didn’t work. 

From Nowhere‘s intimate subject matter was handled with deft hands by some of Keney’s nearest and dearest collaborators—Joel Plaskett, Rose Cousins, Victoria Cameron, Siobhan Martin, and Jordan Murphy—and recorded, mixed, and engineered by Thomas Stajcer at Plaskett’s Fang Studios in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. 

In contrast to its heavy predecessors, the airy “Love You Better” offers a featherweight finale to From Nowhere; in earthy reverie, Kenney acknowledges their past failures and that they’re not always going to get it right, but resolves to do the only thing they can: keep trying. “Staring at the ceiling, trying to find the meaning,” they sing over eddying acoustic guitar. “Put it all together; I will love you better.”