Better Dreams

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
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 ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
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." Then, in "Sago Mine," gut-string guitar and banjo heighten the descriptions of horror below and terror above as experienced by the victims (alive and dead) of that recent tragedy. 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, "PacŽ." What have dreams wrought? Some kind of masterpiece.
All Music Guide - Mark Deming
The Kennedys ease back on the poppier side of their upbeat brand of folk-rock on their ninth studio album, Better Dreams, in favor of a more introspective approach. 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. "Sago Mine" tells a harrowing tale of a West Virginia mining disaster, "Give Me Back My Country" is a plaintive but potent cry of protest against the abuses of the G.W. Bush administration, "American Wish" is a similar plea from a voice of conscience, and both "In My Dreams" and the title track deal with the refuge some can only find in sleep. 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.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/22/2008
  • Label: Appleseed Records
  • UPC: 611587110725
  • Catalog Number: 1107
  • Sales rank: 164,542

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Breathe (4:08)
  2. 2 Speed of Soul (3:08)
  3. 3 I Found a Road (3:04)
  4. 4 No Mornings (3:08)
  5. 5 Better Dreams (2:31)
  6. 6 Give Me Back My Country (3:06)
  7. 7 American Wish (4:02)
  8. 8 Sago Mine (3:51)
  9. 9 Light My Way (3:23)
  10. 10 In My Dreams (2:38)
  11. 11 Kindred Spirits (3:09)
  12. 12 Pacé (2:58)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
The Kennedys Primary Artist
Pete Kennedy Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Mandolin, Drums, Electric Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, 12-string Guitar, Gut String Guitar, Electric Sitar, 5-string Banjo, Guitar (Resonator)
Dan Navarro Background Vocals, Guest Appearance
Rebecca Hall Background Vocals, Guest Appearance
Maura Kennedy Acoustic Guitar, Harmonica, Glockenspiel, Vocals
Sloan Wainwright Vocals, Guest Appearance
Radoslav Lorkovic Accordion, Guest Appearance
Cheryl Prashker Percussion, Guest Appearance
Cadence Carroll Background Vocals, Djembe, Guest Appearance
Eric Lee Violin, Guest Appearance
Technical Credits
Pete Kennedy Composer
Maura Kennedy Composer
The Kennedys Audio Production
Eric Lee String Arrangements
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