Published Sep 29, 2017Mo Kenney is an honest songwriter. On "Deja Vu," a standout track from her self-titled debut, she spits, "Baby, I'm bored" and her sophomore record, In My Dreams, starts off with the scorching line, "I faked it. Now that I look back from the very first kiss I knew it wouldn't last." But these admissions seem almost tame compared to those on her intimate third record, The Details.
"I'm drawn to really personal music and really honest music, so I've always tried to tap into that part of myself," Kenney tells Exclaim! "That's the reason why I write music — I'm trying to express myself and communicate with people through that expression. I feel like I'm getting progressively more personal as time goes on. I'm getting more brave and less afraid to say what I want to say."
On The Details we follow Kenney through a period of depression and eventual stability. The record is scattered with empty bottles, heartache, and the long shadows of another day spent inside — no detail is spared.
"When I first started writing this record, I was going through a really hard time. I've struggled with depression since I was a teenager," Kenney explains. "I went to a ton of therapy when I was a teenager and got it under control, and then in my early 20s I noticed that things were starting to go downhill a little bit, but I didn't go back to therapy because I didn't want to. The summer of 2015, I found myself in a really shitty spot again — similar to how bad I felt when I was a teenager. I was really, really depressed and I was drinking a lot. So I started going back to therapy and I started feeling really good."
Mirroring Kenney's health, there is a distinct change in the album's mood around the halfway mark as Kenney starts to find her footing again. She kicks an unwanted person out of her bed, she reassures herself, "it's not the end of the world," and then on the album closer "Feelin' Good," she realizes, "I like being alone cause I like myself."
"I had all these songs and thought, "wow, all these songs are so depressing!" and they were about how bad I was feeling and then I didn't feel that bad anymore so I thought, "how am I going to go from here?" The next thing I wrote after I was feeling alright, I thought, "okay, [The Details] will be a progression." Like me," Kenney says. "It starts off in this dismal place and then the songs get progressively more optimistic as the record goes on and that was exactly how I felt at the time."
With a clear concept for the record in mind, Kenney notes an ease she felt when making The Details. She also reflects on how much easier writing songs that are true to herself has become over the years and confidently says about The Details, "I am really proud of this record. It's my favourite one so far."
The Details is out now on Pheromone Records.