McKenzie's "Chances" one of the best so far

July 18, 2008

by David Malachowski, Daily Freeman

Sick of guitars? I am, (and I play one for a living). If so, you needn't look any further than Rosendale resident Kelleigh McKenzie's new CD, "Chances."

Sure, a guitar shows up now and then, but the sounds that are always way at the top of the mix are McKenzie's driving banjo and haunting voice. Recorded in Catskill at NRS, and produced by her husband Jeff Michne, McKenzie uses local heroes Scott Petito on bass and Dan Hickey on drums. And the results are stunning.

Calling her back home, "O Mother" showcases her spare sound and copious use of space. The bluesy "Gin" has a sultry delivery. Soon, "Call it a Day" pounds its way into your soul. After an ethereal intro, Hickey's big backbeat kicks in with ["In Between"] as McKenzie's cool voice hovers over the track. The bleak tale of the future "2017" ("I've heard the stories of a time when we could choose") is moving, while "War For Sale" continues that dark futuristic theme.

The Beatles did dark too, and McKenzie's reading of Lennon/McCartney's "Eleanor Rigby" is simply stunning.

The mood changes with "The Bus Song," a simmering hot jazzy number as McKenzie serpentines around a lucid bass line, and with "Roark," which is about her dog.

Other highlights include the dark and droning "Easy Time," written for the late Chris Whitley. McKenzie's Appalachian lilt and harmonies are outstanding, and her phrasing is impeccable.

Excitingly not just another girl with a guitar, banjo-toting McKenzie has on her finger-picking hands a brilliant CD that sounds like nothing else you've heard this year. Her depth and insight are astounding and "Chances" is simply one of the best regional CDs of the year.

Worth a "chance" for sure.

updated: 12 years ago