New Jersey indie recording artist Keith Kenny’s fifth album is a testament to the persistence and innovation required to thrive as a singer/songwriter in the digital age, made all the worse by the forced touring sabbatical required due to the pandemic. Kenny’s career as a band-of-one allowed him to tour with minimal overhead, supplementing his acoustic guitar with an array of special effects pedals and digital loops, using his notorious red suitcase as a kickdrum. Forced off the road and with a bunch of songs written about the break-up of his marriage, Kenny produced this fifth album putting to use all that he’d learned working with Justin Guip on previous projects, supported by Sim Cain on drums. “Lifetime Ago Motel” is an example of an artist who’s willing to “follow your heart till it winds up on your sleeve,” as he sings in “Little Lies.”
To his credit, Kenny is a solid songwriter, delivering strong melodies with plenty of strong guitar parts to keep things interesting. Stylistically, he moves from the light airy pop of the opening “Move Along” to the jam band blues of “Burr’s Roach Jam” and metal feel of “Broken Misery,” to the more representative folk balladry of “The Letter.” And, just as he brings a varied musical approach to this latest collection of songs, Kenny’s lyrical expressions are all over the emotional map, as is often the case for those experiencing the grief of a major relationship ending. We hear all the stages of loss: hurt, bargaining, and anger, to acceptance and a sense of appreciation, everything from “IDGAF” to “You’ll Always Be That Star (in my sky).”
Lifetime Ago Motel is a very solid singer/songwriter effort, track after track reveals his artful, musical approach to working through a challenging period of loss and all that goes with it. Closing the 12 track release with the lovely delicate acoustic instrumental, “Drifting In Time,” suggests that he’s looking forward after dealing pointedly with his recent past. As break-up albums go, Kenny has delivered a three course banquet along with a couple palette cleansers and a tasty dessert.
Key Tracks: “The Letter” / “Ends Meet” / “You’ll Always Be That Star”
Artists With Similar Fire: Dave Matthews / Howie Day / Keller Williams
-Reviewed by Brian Q. Newcomb