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Songs of the Open Road

The Kennedys

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Album Review

There's no arguing that Pete Kennedy and Maura Kennedy know how to write a fine song, but the Kennedys' catalog also confirms they can choose a lovely cover when they're of a mind, and they've chosen to pay homage to some of the songwriters and tunes that influenced them most with their eighth studio album, Songs of the Open Road. While the album offers a tip of the hat to some old friends and acknowledged mentors, including Nanci Griffith ("Late Night Grande Hotel"), Dave Carter ("Gypsy Rose" and "Happytown"), and Roger McGuinn ("Eight Miles High"), there are a few surprise selections here, including a lovely take on Nick Lowe's "Raging Eyes," the Flying Burrito Brothers' "Sin City" performed with heart-tugging depth, and a timely interpretation of Jimmy Webb's "Galveston." Except for vocals and guitar from Maura, Pete handles all the instruments and production on Songs of the Open Road, and this is wondrous folk-rock built with equal measures of craft and soul; the rich but subtle arrangements are as fine as the Kennedys' peerless harmonies, and while this isn't as gloriously hooky as some of their earlier albums, as a loving expression of the folkier side of their nature it's grand stuff and the finished product leaves no doubt about how much these tunes mean to them. Some fans may quibble about the lack of original material on Songs of the Open Road, but with Bob Dylan, Gene Clark, and Mahalia Jackson among the songwriters represented, it's hard to argue the Kennedys' choice in tunesmiths, and their stirring performances confirm they chose them wisely.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The Kennedys, a D.C.-area husband-and-wife folk-pop team, have been tearing up the scene since their 1995 debut, the Celtic-tinged River of Fallen Stars (Green Linnet). The jangly guitars, tight harmonies, positive energy, and smart lyrics found on this album and its all-star follow-up, 1996's Life Is Large, garnered the couple many awards, including more than 30 Wammies (Washington Area Music...
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Songs of the Open Road, The Kennedys
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