Shannon Kennedy Behind Your Eyes
Alicia M. Doyle
With the long awaited release of her newest album, Behind your Eyes, Shannon Kennedy demonstrates that she has both the endurance and the innovation to remain relevant in today’s music world.
The process of recording Behind Your Eyes was begun in 2010 and over the last two years she has released three of the album tracks: Falling Slowing, No One to Catch Me and Only One, as singles. Finalizing the project was put on hold when Shannon took some time to tour, to immerse herself in Celtic culture while earning a master’s degree at Queen’s College in Belfast, and to get married. The completed album—her fifth since her debut in 2005—is a remarkably sophisticated and diverse collection of mostly vocal music, all of which was well worth the wait.
Established as a saxophonist in the world of music since an early age, this newest album clearly showcases her strength as a singer-songwriter. With only one purely instrumental track (Falling Slowly) the songs are noticeably informed by her understanding of current European trends and her lifelong passion for acoustic folk music. Several tracks feature European folk instruments and she includes songs in both French and English. Contrasting these acoustic tracks are Only One and N'Importe Quoi wherein she explores contemporary Europop and electronic dance music styles. In addition to the mostly new material on the album, the inclusion of her new interpretation of the enormously popular Dead Man’s Party (Oingo Boingo) is refreshing and unexpected.
The musicians who perform with Shannon on Behind Your Eyes are as progressive and eclectic as the music they recorded together. A few musicians from her previous albums make appearances including Kurt Hamernick (drums), Spenser Bishop (drums), Thomas Drayton (bass), and John Gregorius (guitar). New guests include a few musicians from Europe such as Ioannis Tsiolakis (keyboards) and U-Nam (guitar and bass).
Beyond the clear French and folk music inspiration, her lifelong passion for music, all music, is clearly evident on this album. In Shannon’s work, she has internalized the influence of all the great artists she had the opportunity to discover before and while living in Europe. As for the new vocal direction she is taking as an artist Shannon states “Singing and songwriting has opened up a lot of really great opportunities for me and I am so excited to share this new aspect of my musical identity with my friends and fans. It has been an amazing experience working on the music from this album and hearing it all come together."
Behind your Eyes defies classification into any one genre. Her use of timbres is deeply evocative, and the album as a whole is a cinematic marriage of jazz, pop, folk, and global music. Clearly her own experience has deeply affected her understanding of the world and of music. This new perspective is readily apparent in her work as she demonstrates the ability to take risks and to challenge her abilities by exploring new artistic mediums. This sentiment is captured in a line from a track on the new album, No One to Catch Me: “I’m not the kind of girl who falls this hard- especially when there’s no one to catch me.” Here in a single phrase she has summed up the ideology of this album and of her future. Shannon can do anything she wants and she has demonstrated that she doesn’t need anyone to catch her as she can catch herself.
Shannon Kennedy will release "Behind Your Eyes" and to support the release, she will return to the stage touring December 2012 and throughout 2013.