A Review of the Benita Kenn CD

by Benita Kenn

Copyright 2003
P.O. Box 4179
Menlo Park, CA 94026
http://www.benitakenn.com and

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 1/05
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Laden with distressed seekers, doubting souls, mismatched couples, and a sprinkling of love and lust in interchangeable order, Benita Kenn's release is a veritable treasure trove of therapist material.

The strongest points are Kenn's strong, clear voice and excellent diction, along with exquisite instrumental backing from a number of well-seasoned musicians. The lyrics to the stories presented are fairly straightforward, with some use of metaphor.

The opening cut, "Train," has Kenn traveling on such a locomotive but also on a journey of personal change. "Prayer" depicts someone reaching out to another on an unfamiliar pathway of life. The chorus goes:
"...You are a door that has opened
A room locked in the past
I want to draw back the curtains
And let the light pour in on me at last..."
Personal discovery also highlights "Garden," which ties into both "Train" and "Prayer" due to its associating the blossoming of garden plants with what is needed for humans to bloom.

Kenn has fun riffing on the discoverer of gravity in "Sir Isaac," noting that even Newton would be baffled by the natural law-defying matters of the heart.

The best cut, "Sword and Shield," dramatizes that most of our external battles are really internally-birthed. The chorus goes:
"...You're wielding your words like a weapon again
You're shielding old wounds that have never quite healed
The battles you're fighting you never can win
'Til you put down your sword and shield..."
"Paris" is the next best offering, a dreamy romantic tale of a couple's possibility for rejuvenation. Kenn sings:
"...Talk me pretty music
Sleepy traffic drone
Shadows splash the sidewalks
On patterned cobblestone..."
The sensual and earthy "Reach for Me" depicts the lusty ache of at least temporary transformational attraction that, in this cut, may or may not be answered.

"New York City Christmas" is old-timey, real old timey through the use of guitar, cello, recorders and a Madrigal choir.

"Keeper of the Flame" is an ode to parents. Kenn sings:
"...And of the riches one could have
They left me with their claim
I hold their light inside of me
The keeper of the flame..."
"Shine" is a Dr. Spock-like primer for surviving adult life. "Roads" concludes the release, returning to the theme of human travel--is it running from or heading to something?

Altogether, this is a release very pleasing to the ears and a 'textbook' of and for the rootless and loveless to keep trying to get it right.

Benita Kenn on vocals and guitar, is backed by David Grier on guitar; John Lee Sanders on piano, keyboards and saxophone; Jimmy Norris on drums; Derek Jones on base and fretless bass, Marty Atkinson on guitar, mandolin and background vocals; William Coulter on guitar; Joe Craven on percussion; Bruce Cotter on pipes; Valerie Rose on fiddle, violins and vocals and harmony vocals; Barbara Ann Barrnett on accordian; Michael Spira on percussion; Rennee Hayes on background vocals; Linda Peterson on background vocals; Gwen McElwee on background vocals; Heather Winkle on piano; Kris Yenney on cello; Preston Carter on bass; Shelly Phillips on recorders and English horn; Radim Zenkl on mandolin; Aaron Johnston on drums and shaker; Mickey McPhillips on bass; Joe Weed on guitar and mandolin; Norton Buffalo on harmonica; Steve Pefley on drums; Heather Winkle on background vocals.

Track List:

All songs by Benita Kenn, unless noted.

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