al stewart

T h e..K e n n e d y s

beach full of shells

The Kennedys
Better Dreams


“The folk-rocking husband/wife team of Pete and Maura Kennedy have created a cohesive, often infectious and sometimes poignant song cycle inspired by dreams: the dreams that come in the night, and dreams of a better world. (5 stars)”
– Mike Regenstreif, Montreal Gazette

“The songs themselves are a strong bunch, with if anything a wider stylistic range than the normal Kennedys pop-folk-psych. . . . Those trademark jangling electric twelve-strings are definitely less in the forefront of the mix than usual, and lighter, quieter acoustic colours of banjo, mandolin, resonator guitar and suchlike figure more (none of which is a bad thing, of course). . . Maura takes lead vocal duty on the majority of the songs, and I don't reckon I've heard her sing better, while Pete's inventive instrumentation is a constant source of delight, with so much interest in the dreamlike texturings he conjures. Another really fine album from the Kennedys, then.”
– David Kidman, NetRhythms, January 2008

“With songs inspired by their dreams, Pete and Maura Kennedy meld ’60s rock, folk, and country into a stunning concept album that takes the listener from the footloose frolic of not-so-long-ago into a world of abridged civil liberties, before concluding on an upbeat note with a bracing appeal for peace. The optimistic, go-for-it counsel of the stomping opener, ‘Breathe,’ mutates seamlessly into the frothy, sunny, power pop of ‘Speed of Soul,’ with its energetic, chanting girl-group chorus and jaunty banjo and mandolin lines – it’s all so 9/10. But the melancholy folk ballad ‘No Mornings’ suggests the persistence of an unsettling dream, which in turn becomes reality with a rough-edged, Creedence-tinged country rocker, ‘Give Me Back My Country,’ that finds Maura crying out, ‘...give me back my country / and the sweet breath of freedom from the Bill of Rights.’ Fully referencing a post-9/11 world now, the Kennedys lay it on in ‘American Wish,’ speaking truth to power in restrained, acoustic-driven fury and twang as Maura bemoans ‘the voice of the people silenced by the powerful few.’ . . . Yet daybreak looms, and with it hope, articulated so sweetly in the beautiful, if somewhat bleak, country ballad ‘Light My Way,’ in the jubilant reconciliation of ‘In My Dreams,’ and in the spiritual solace of the Eastern-tinged meditation ‘Kindred Spirits’ and the ethereal instrumental coda, "Pacé.” What have dreams wrought? Some kind of masterpiece.”
– David McGee, Editorial Review

“. . . combines frothy pop exuberance with rootsy instrumental textures . . . The arrangements put Maura's shimmering voice up front, then build a wall of sound behind her that sounds something like Phil Ramone meets the Byrds. . . . Folk-pop is alive and well. Better Dreams proves it.”
Vintage Guitar

“While Maura Kennedy and Pete Kennedy remain as tuneful as ever on these 12 new songs, a more subdued approach seems to have been dictated by the material; most of the songs on Better Dreams were inspired by images from Maura and Pete’s own dreams, and while ‘Breathe’ and ‘Speed of Soul’ find playful and upbeat stories to tell in their after-dark reveries, much of the album deals with weightier themes. . . While Better Dreams is a more moody and contemplative album than the Kennedys usually offer, the spirit of the music is still bright and passionate, and the musicianship remains top-notch. Maura Kennedy's vocals are sweet without betraying the gravity of her themes, Pete remains a gifted multi-instrumentalist, and the additional accompanists (most from the Kennedys' side group the Strangelings) offer lovely support without losing sight of the album’s thematic focus. Better Dreams is a thoughtful album that reflects on a somber time in American history, but it also speaks of a sincere belief in better days and higher ideals, and it demonstrates why the Kennedys are one of the most compelling acts on the contemporary folk scene.”
– Mark Deming, All Music Guide

“. . . this record can really grow on you, with jingle-jangle guitar arrangements that evoke Roger McGuinn . . . (There is a country vibe on several tracks, but this is not exactly straightahead country or roots music). . . . A little musical time travel can shed some light on the present, and the Kennedys have an agreeable peace train ride waiting for the willing.”
– Jeff Lincoln, Country Standard Time

“No matter what the situation, Maura Kennedy’s sweetly parsed vocals have always made this folk duo’s music sound honey-dipped. . . . Husband Pete provides much of the instrumental backing, with his expertly picked 12-string Rickenbacker, resonator slide guitar, electric sitar, mandolin, and banjo accompanying his sparsely added bass and drums. This comfortable musical setting allows Maura to ponder deep mysteries in ‘Speed of Soul,’ ‘Kindred Spirits’ (inspired by Joseph Campbell), and ‘Breathe,’ which confronts the possibility of life being a birth-to-death-to-rebirth continuum. Such metaphysical questions are offset by the literal, political rage of ‘Give Me Back My Country’ and the defiantly hopeful ‘American Wish,’ where the dreams are of a better world here and now. But even in their anger and frustration, the Kennedys smooth the rough edges, adhering to the dream-like twilight their music evokes.”
– Rob O’Connor, Sound & Vision, January 2008
“There are dark mountain laments, jug band bluegrass, psychedlic loopiness, exotic Indian touches and unabashed folk-pop. . . . [A]ll songs are wonderfully crafted folk-rock opuses recalling the best of The Byrds and Fairport Convention. It all clicks, thanks to the album’s propensity for melody and catchy hooks . . . The Kennedys once again have crafted a batch of folk-rock that’s organic, charming and melodic.”
– Eric Feber, The Virginian-Pilot, Va.