In My Dreams is a stunningly accomplished and exciting follow-up to Mo Kenney’s 2012 much-decorated and universally-acclaimed self-titled debut. Released on New Scotland Records/Pheromone Recordings on September 30, 2014, In My Dreams showcases an artist who has grown in every facet of her craft – as a singer, songwriter, guitarist and performer.
The album reunites Mo with her key creative collaborator and musical mentor, Joel Plaskett. The East Coast rock icon produced, played on, and co-wrote some of the material on her first record, and the two were clearly on the same page in terms of a sonic mandate for In My Dreams. “I knew it would be more of a production in terms of using a band,” says Mo. “I’m playing a lot more with a band live now, so I wasn’t afraid to go in that direction and make it less acoustic-based.”
Even though there’s a full band sound to some of the material on In My Dreams, most of the instrumentation came from Kenney and Plaskett themselves, Mo explains. “Joel did all the drums and bass and he played some of the organ. I did all the electric guitars [Kenney’s ability to shred sets her apart from folkier peers] and I played some Wurlitzer and Rhodes.”
The Mo Kenney album was recorded in Plaskett’s previous more basic space, and Mo loved working in his new facility, New Scotland Yard, in Dartmouth, NS. “He has a super hi-fidelity Neve board now, so the difference in the sound quality in the studio was really noticeable,” she says. “It has plenty of analog equipment, and I love the sound of tape.”
This recording method and the prominent use of vintage keyboards has paid real dividends in the warm and rich sound of In My Dreams, one that remains built around Kenney’s emotionally eloquent voice. Listen to “Untouchable” (featuring a powerhouse vocal performance Neko Case or Adele would be happy to claim) and “Mountains to the Mess” and you won’t dare to disagree. The rich harmonies on the record are all Mo’s own, and they add a real resonance to such other tunes as “Field Song” and “Pretty Things.”
An early version of “I Faked It” was written by Kenney, Gordie Sampson and Willie Stratton at Sampson’s renowned songwriting retreat, The Gordie Sampson Songcamp, and a revised version (featuring input from Plaskett) is the sizzling first cut on In My Dreams. Three other Plaskett-Kenney co-writes (“Untouchable,” “Take Me Outside,” and “In My Dreams”) nestle neatly alongside five solo Kenney compositions and one cover, and the first single, “Telephones.” That latter song was originally written and recorded by East Coast rockers Mardeen for their 2008 album Read Less Minds. “I fell in love with it immediately,” Mo says. “I loved the melody and the catchy chorus.”
In My Dreams takes the listener on a memorable emotional rollercoaster ride. The journey ends on an up note with “Dancing”: “you’re the sweetest dream cos’ I don’t have to sleep.” Sweet dreams are indeed made of this enchanting record.