Mo Kenney Lake Stage, Guelph ON, July 26

Mo Kenney Lake Stage, Guelph ON, July 26
Photo: Atsuko Kobasigawa
Nova Scotian singer-songwriter Mo Kenney has come a long way as a performer since she first caught the attention of Joel Plaskett over four years ago with her minimalist, two-fingered take on Elliott Smith-like fingerpicked guitar pop. More bouts on stage in support of last year's In My Dreams have made her less shy, and it shows in her playing and banter in between songs.
Jokes about her terrible wardrobe selection for the last (and hottest) day of Hillside (all-black, long-sleeved shirt and jeans), reasons for her running regimen (in short, staying healthy and escaping perverts in Dartmouth) and string of bad jobs (a dollar store clerk and pizza maker at a local grocery store) were peppered throughout a set that pulled heavily from her most recent LP and helped create a fully formed picture of the process behind the album and its songs.
Album openers "I Faked It" and "Take Me Outside" sounded even better in a stripped-down situation with just a live bassist and drummer, but it was set closer "Untouchable" that really showcased her strength as a performer, as Kenney alternated between fuzzed-out guitar licks and softly plucked chords as she kept cool composure in one of the more uncomfortably hot days of the fest.