North Carolina-based Heather Kenney grew up in a small town in the Uwharrie Mountains, where she was in-grained with the region’s sense of musical traditions from the start. She grew up in a setting where the range of folk and bluegrass were an intrinsic backdrop within the cultural standpoint. At age 14, she had many fond memories of playing on her father’s old guitar after picking up the instrument when she found it in the attic. She quickly took on other string instrumentals, picking up the banjo and ukulele. She soon developed her own unique methods on playing these instruments, oftentimes playing the guitar with metal finger picks. This attempt allowed her to execute complex fingerpicking and solid percussive strumming simultaneously.
In the vernacular of such bluegrass and folk-inspired acts like Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss, Kenney’s debut 3 song EP, Waltz, opens up on a strong note with the track, “Whole Life of You.” The patient song starts off from the get-go with thoughtful lyrics and vocals that surface as lithe and quiet. The light track is bright and filled with a sense of optimism, chiming in with the sounds of percussions and Kenney’s deft finger work on the guitar, as she picks at the banjo that crops up a sense of folksy vibe and country-twang.
Stream “Enough” video
On the following track, “Real World,” the melodic guitar picking sound and intricate finger work on the ukulele provides for a huge island flavor to the overall encasing sound. The acoustic instrumentals also help in paving the foundation to the over-arching tropical cadence. Everything is executed very well, here, from the tight musicianship to the smoky vocals, the artistry in which the singer-songwriter incorporates her powerful vocal range and emotional songwriting skills takes the storytelling to another level.
The last track to the EP, “Enough,” has a sound that is filled with grace. The altogether dreamy sound has the acoustic guitar really dancing here. The emotional track with a thoughtful bent is filled with rollicking guitar licks. The waltz factor adds in a great bouncy beat without dissipating the haunting component.
These inspirational tracks – ballads done in a waltz time signature that compliments the folk and country sector of music are all done in a timeless quality. Orchestrated with a flair for the good ole folksy sound with a country twist, the modest sound that arises from the sparse arrangements with simple acoustics and the sole quality of Kenney’s voice that is a beacon of light for those artists who would dare venture into the vein of arranging their own original compositions with a folk, country bent in a contemporary setting. These melodic tunes prove that Heather Kenney is a promising act, definitely up for magnificent things.
On the inspiration behind these songs and her songwriting process, she says, “Earlier this year I unexpectedly started writing songs in ¾ time and kept thinking about that cascading feeling of a waltz. The connection of the time signatures and a thread of lasting optimism across these tracks made me feel like this was a good way to test the waters.” 7.7/10
Kenney’s debut 3 song EP, Waltz, will be out July 28th.