CD Review: "Chances"

June 19, 2008

by Peter McGee, The Bluesbunny

RATING: 5 carrots

For anyone who says folk music is one-dimensional, I challenge you to listen to Kelleigh McKenzie's excellent CD, "Chances". You will be eating humble pie for the rest of your days. This incredibly dark collection of banjo-infested Americana combines classic bluegrass sounds with the alternative rock stylings of PJ Harvey to great effect.

On this, her debut album, Kelleigh draws on her own experiences in her 44 years of life to deliver an album that is, quite simply, beautiful. It is important to remember that beauty is not merely symbolized by flowers and sunshine.

Opening track "O Mother" is straight from Guthrie Park. So we begin nicely enough - a nicely arranged bluegrass song. This is just the start. McKenzie has a wonderful ability in that she can go from sounding sweet and innocent to sounding like death's little sister in an instant.  "Underground" is probably the saddest song you'll ever hear. Kelleigh's mournful voice comes out here, and, like it or not, you will listen to her words.

A wonderful version of "Eleanor Rigby" follows later. A more fitting cover song could not be found for this album. Incredible. The album ends on a rather humourous note - a tongue-in-cheek tribute to her dog.

This album could very well have turned out to be a dozen dreary dirges but it's far from that. The banjo is a wonderful instrument, and Kelleigh gets a wonderfully dark sound out of it. It isn't heavy on instrumentation but Kelleigh and her banjo make a sound more deadly than mega-popular Coldplay could ever hope to achieve through visiting churches. Kelleigh is the real deal.

(THE CARROT RATINGS EXPLAINED: 5 carrots means we have found an album that reminds us why we should be listening to music. Involving, captivating or whatever you want to call it. You end up playing the album all the time. You leave the windows open so people walking down the street below can be introduced to the music. You bore your friends by talking about the album. All the time. Music as it is meant to be done. A recommended purchase.)

updated: 12 years ago