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CD Review: Hadley Kennary “Habits”

Chicago, Illinois native Hadley Kennary is a singer-songwriter who, like many trying to make it in the music industry, has moved to Nashville to be part of the vibrant music scene in that town. And being in Nashville, Kennary is starting to get noticed. That has to do with her strong vocals and her writing ability. Both of those qualities have led to many accolades such as winning second place in the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Troubadour Songwriting Competition, as well as being included in several other contests.  

To date, Hadley Kennary released a self-titled release in 2011, the In Fall album in 2013 and the Momentum EP in 2016. Just recently, Kennary released her newest EP of music. The 2019 release from the singer-songwriter is titled Habits. And to help Hadley bring her music to life on that release, she’s joined by Collin Pastore on pedal steel, Austin Webb on guitar, Andrew Brown on Bass, and Jake Finch on drums and background vocals. While Hadley Kennary won that Second Place finish in the aforementioned Bluegrass Songwriting contest, together, Kennary and company create a release that blends together a generous amount of Pop and Rock influences.

Habits from Hadley Kennary begins with the track “First Love”. The track begins with the sound of the guitar and some light percussion as Kennary adds soft vocals to the provided music. Before long, the song changes from the light musical approach to a track with a full-on Pop-Rock musical feel. In fact, the track feels like something from Shania Twain except with a much stronger Rock and Roll influence to the music as Hadley and band create a track that would feel right at home alongside Twain’s “I’m Gonna Getcha Good,” especially since both tracks contain an upbeat delivery on the music as well as containing lyrics about pursing your love interest. The commercial feel of the track ensures a strong showing on the charts if the song gets a chance.

With the next track, Hadley Kennary takes her music in a much different direction. The track “Right by You” is a track that contains a sound that will remind the listener of something from the mid-eighties. In fact, the musical Pop-Rock approach of “Right by You” contains a sound that places the track next to songs from artists like Kim Wilde, Sheena Easton and/or Kim Carnes. The musical vibe of the track comes courtesy of the bassline from Andrew Brown as well as the guitar playing from Austin Webb. As the track continues, the addition of the drums just helps to reinforce that approach. Together, the musicians help create that musical vibe that places the song musically into the eighties. For those who enjoy the sound of that era, “Right by You” will satisfy the craving for music from that decade.

Hadley Kennary and band slow things down on the next track of the EP. The song “Accountability” once again features a Pop-Rock feel to the music as the song begins with the sound of the acoustic guitar and Kennary’s vocals. The simplicity of that combination creates the basis of the track and that simplicity lasts throughout the three minutes of the song, creating a track with a gentle feeling to the music. The inclusion of electric guitar, slide guitar and other instrumentation in the background adds depth to the track. However, that added instrumentation stays rather low-key throughout, allowing the vocals of Kennery to shine as harmonies add even more to the track. Altogether, the soft gentle music of the song brings to mind the musical stylings of someone like Sarah McLaughlin, Tori Amos or other singer-songwriters who stay on the softer side of Pop-Rock.

The harder side of Hadley Kennary and her music returns on the track called “Casual”. The beginning of the track starts with the light sound of the bass before the electric guitar joins in to create a Rock and Roll feel to the music. In fact, it is the electric guitar that stands out on this song, adding power to the music while creating a sound that would fit squarely on the today’s radio airwaves. The full sound of the guitar and the strength of the music creates an Alternative Rock feel to the track. At the beginning of the song, the electric guitar and Alternative Rock feel of the music brings to mind someone like Alanis Morrissett. However, the track changes slightly as some Pop influence is added to the music. The track ultimately feels like a blend of Alanis Morrissett and the more Rock and Roll side of No Doubt. “Casual” ends up being one of the strongest tracks on the release, as well as one of the most commercial. And with that in mind, it’s easy to see why the track is one of the singles on the EP.

It is with the track “Potential” that Hadley Kennary brings her new Habits EP to a close. Much like with the previous track of “Casual,” Kennary creates a track with a strong Rock and Roll backbone to it. But the song also contains a Pop feel to the music at the same time. The track is one of the more energetic of the songs on the release as it contains a driving feel to the music. As far as style is concerned, the music falls somewhere between the nineties and today, creating a very modern feel to the song. You can imagine the track fitting on any Alternative Rock, Modern Rock or even Top 40/Hot A/C radio formats. The energetic feel to the music as well as its commercial vibe makes “Potential” a very listener-friendly track. It also makes the inclusion of the track at the very end of the release a good move as it brings Habits from Hadley Kennary to a close on a strong note.

Habits from Hadley Kennary is a strong five–song release. And with the Pop-Rock, Alternative Rock, even Top 40 influences in the songs, the album gives the listener a short, but accurate indication of the talents of Kennary. Whether you are a fan of Pop-Rock, Alternative Rock, even Top 40 music, there’s something here for any lover of Rock and Roll music.  

For a taste of the music from Hadley Kennary, check out the single “Casual”.

To check out the Habits release from Hadley Kennary, click on the album cover below: 

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Erica Blinn “Better Than Gold”

Currently calling the city of Nashville, Tennessee home, Erica Blinn is a singer-songwriter from Columbus, Ohio. Performing for the musician started rather young as she was only a teenager when she started playing the harmonica which would lead to her exploration of other instruments which includes the guitar, the instrument that she plays on stage when in concert. As a songwriter, Erica Blinn has released three albums: 2011’s self-titled EP, 2014’s Lovers in the Dust, and her most current album, 2018’s Better than Gold. It is that last album on which Blinn is currently touring.

The album of Better than Gold from Erica Blinn begins with the current single off the album called “Softer Side”. Right from the beginning Erica Blinn seems to be inviting the listener in with the song. The track has a very Pop-like approach to the Rock and Roll on the track. There is a rather strong presence from the keyboards on the track that help to add a bit of funkiness to the music. Together, the Funk influence and the Pop-Rock approach to the music combine to create a rather listener (as well as radio) friendly feel to the track.

Blinn continues her newest album with the track “Dance with the One (Who Brought You Here)”. While “Softer Side” contained a bit of funkiness to the music, this track finds Blinn drawing inspiration from the Blues. The track features a strong Blues/Rock blend that is helped along by the harmonica playing of Blinn. The harmonica adds the Bluesy feel to the music while the track already has a strong, driving pace. What results is a track that picks you up and seems to carry you along throughout the length of the track. With the Blues/Rock blend on the track as well as the harmonica that gives the track that bluesy feel, the track brings to mind a different Ohio native, Stacie Collins who creates music in much the same vein.

With the track “Dreamer’s Heart,” Erica Blinn writes a song that has a clear message to follow your passion, do what you like and don’t worry so much about what others think. The upbeat message is timeless in nature as it works no matter what year it is. The music to the track seems to be based in the Classic Rock genre and draws inspiration from the likes of Creedence Clearwater Revival and other bands from the late seventies/early eighties. And much like the message in the track, the music has a very uplifting quality to it, as well.

Many different musical influences are drawn from when Erica Blinn writing her songs. For the track “A Little Rain,” you easily hear some Country influence in the music as well as a bit of a drawl in Blinn’s vocal delivery. The Country twang even shows up in the music of the track. Together, the musical blend of Rock and Roll and some twang to the music creates a track that would be right at home on any Contemporary Country radio format. Especially since the lyrical content about taking the bad with the good would definitely be right at home on those formats.

Things slow down quite a bit on the track “Suitcases and Truck Stops”. On this track, Erica Blinn brings back a little of the sentiment that appeared in the song “Dreamer’s Heart” a little earlier in the release. On this track, Blinn sings about getting out there and experiencing the world. Sure, it comes after the breakup of a relationship, but sometimes that’s the best way to get over the heartache. The track features a strong guitar-based feel to the music. The slow-paced track allows for the electric guitar to create a definite groove in the music and allow for the listening to simply fall into the music as the song moves slowly along. It also allows for Blinn to stretch her vocal cords as she delivers some of the strongest notes on the Better than Gold album.

On the title track of the release, Erica Blinn creates a track that feels like it came directly off of the radio back in the eighties. The straight-out Rock and Roll delivery of the music on the track “Better than Gold” feels like something that could have been produced by the likes of either Susanna Hoffs and/or the band she was famous for creating with sisters Vicki Peterson and Debbi Peterson which would go on to be rather famous- The Bangles. “Better than Gold” is guitar-driven Rock and Roll that would fit right at home on today’s Rock and Roll formats just as much as it would have felt at home back in the eighties. In fact, you could image this track being the next single off of the release.

Speaking of singles off of the release, along with the aforementioned track “Softer Side,” another track off of the Better than Gold album that has been made into a video is the track “When I’m With Suzie (I Do What I Want)”. The track features lyrics about two women who are best friends going out on the town and, basically, raising a little hell. This track once again brings a lot of Rock and Roll feel to the music. And with the subject matter being what it is, you could easily see this song having been influenced by the likes of Shania Twain, shades of “I Feel like a Woman”. In fact, you could imagine Twain making this song her own. For those ladies who have a very independent spirit, this could be the Rock anthem you’ve been looking for.

With a title such as “Loving You,” one might imagine a track with a soft, gentle musical delivery with a romantic side to the lyrics. And while the final track of the Better than Gold album from Erica Blinn does contain that romantic feel in the lyrics, the music is anything but soft and gentle. The strong guitars, heavy bass and pounding drums on the track create a straight-out Rock and Roll song that happens to have romantic lyrics. With this song, Blinn seems to have decided not to be subtle with her feelings as she comes right out and says how she’s feeling. “Loving You” brings the album to a close on an upbeat and strong note.

The Better than Gold album Erica Blinn finds her creating songs that contain many different styles of music. From straight-out Rock and Roll to Pop-Rock with some funkiness to it, the various tracks on the album help give the album depth. And with those various musical elements, Erica Blinn’s abilities as a singer-songwriter comes through rather well. The album ends up being strong from beginning to end.

For a taste of the music from Erica Blinn, check out the song “Softer Side”.

 

To check out the entire Better than Gold album from Erica Blinn, click on the album cover below: