Mo Kenney Gets A Little Help From Joel Plaskett

Boasting one of the most exciting voices to emerge from Atlantic Canada in the last two years, Nova Scotian singer-songwriter Mo Kenney is a name that you’ll want to take note of now, before she becomes the next big thing in Canada.

With production help from fellow Nova Scotian Joel Plaskett, Kenney’s debut album is slated to be released on Sept. 25 on Pheromone Recordings in Canada.

On Friday night, Mo Kenney will be performing at Moncton’s Empress Theatre, located in Robinson Court in downtown Moncton, in support of celebrated singer-songwriter Gordie Sampson.

It’s been a relatively quick ascension for Kenney. In the last 18 months, she has earned praise from songwriters including Steve Poltz, Crash Test Dummies’ Brad Roberts and Ron Sexsmith, for whom Kenney opened at Moncton’s Capitol Theatre in February.

It was an encounter with the influential Plaskett more than five years ago when Kenney was 17 years old that began their friendship that lead to the two of them working together on Kenney’s upcoming record.

“Approximately three years ago, I had been invited to one of Gordie Sampson’s songwriting camps,” Kenney begins. “And it turns out that it was because of Joel that I had received the invite to go. He remembered meeting me when I was 17 years old, so for him to remember me after a few years seemed kind of crazy to me.”

Kenney says that she and Plaskett began working on her record in April 2011. Working with a musician as prolific and as in demand as Plaskett, who earlier this year released his own new record, has inevitably caused some delays in Kenney getting her record completed. Not that Kenney is going to complain.

“The record has been a little drawn out because Joel is such a busy guy. Working around his schedule has kind of been a must,” she says. “But looking back upon it, it’s been good to do it that way and only do a couple of songs at a time. Doing it in this manner allowed the songs the opportunity to sink in a little more than had we recorded everything at once.”

For the making of her record, Kenney shares that only she and Plaskett were actually involved, with the latter handling drums and bass duties throughout the record. Having his input into song arrangements was an invaluable tool for Kenney.

“Joel really brought his musical expertise to the record. But rather than coming in with his guns blazing saying how things were going to go, it was much more of a collaborative effort between us.”

Later this year, Kenney will be performing in western Canada in support of Plaskett. It will mark the musician’s first time to the West Coast and is something that she is greatly anticipating.

“The next few months will be a whole new set of experiences for me. I am really looking forward to these opportunities; it’s going to be good though.”

Article published in August 3, 2012 edition of the Times & Transcript