I first saw Kendall a few years ago when she opened for Looking For Alaska at The Anthology Lounge in Auckland, and I came away so impressed that I was soon reviewing her debut album ‘Red Sand’. I grabbed the follow-up last year when it was released and was then devastated when the subsequent tour was cancelled, and I was unable to make the rescheduled dates. I was even more upset when I realized this was still in my “to do” list and I had never got around to reviewing it even though I had been playing it a great deal. I must confess to not knowing who is in her band for this recording, but she has selected a group of musicians who are laid back and never pushing, always allowing her vocals to be at the front.
Virtually everything is country, or country-tinged, with songs like “Something’s Gotta Give” very much slowed down gospel with some wonderful backing vocals and wonderful restraint as we concentrate on the emotion. The opening song, “Honest Hand”, is a wonderful slice of Americana with a delicate rhythm section and picked guitars which introduces us to her world which transports the listener far away from Aoteaora to a different time and place altogether. Mind you, Kendall is not always as sweet and innocent as she makes out to be, as the one cover on this album demonstrates clearly. Written by the Chinnichap team, “Your Mamma Won’t Like Me” was originally a hit for Suzi Quatro back in 1975, and I was intrigued as to how this would play out visually so checked out the video on YouTube and I suggest you do as well, as it is uncommon for a C&W singer to put herself out there like this.
Contrast the bombast of that with the emotional ballad which is “Who Kissed Who”, telling the story of two lovers with Kendall accompanying herself on delicately picked guitar. It is only a fraction over two minutes in length but shows another side of this multi-faceted performer. Another highlight is the gorgeous “A Kingdom” (which is even shorter) which features multi-tracked harmony vocals and is simply sheer delight from beginning to end. It is an album full of contrasts, as she moves through emotions, creating dynamics which amplify each song. Kendall’s music often feels dated, yet also timeless, evoking a time gone past which is thoughtful and considered. Anyone interested in country-style female music really should investigate this more deeply.