Hadley Kennary – In Fall

Hadley Kennary started writing music at 14 years of age.  Inspired by “birds and beloveds, demons and dogs”, and releasing her first EP in 2011, the culmination of her work to date is captured in 2013’s beautiful 10-track album, “In Fall”. About the album, Hadley says “I think the general theme…has been accepting reality…there are only so many things you can control, and in the end you have to just let go and fall into what is meant to happen.” Hence the title track, and what has proved to be a remarkably strong debut effort from an already highly accomplished singer and songwriter.

Hadley Kennary - In Fall

I first came across Hadley Kennary in 2011 when our Berklee family was fledgling and starting to grow; heard for the first time in a duet with Deni Hlavinka, her early tracks on the Fish Pond are – I’m so glad to hear – reflected in the album in “Storybook Worthy”, “Lead”, and “Cry of the Flypaper”. My first impression back then was of an extremely pure and versatile voice; Hadley is truly a unique vocal talent and seemingly always able to capture it throughout  her recorded media. In this album, she’s written something lyrically intelligent, a heartbreaking yet freeing journey through love and loss, ultimately leading to “In Fall”.

Leading out with “Two Yellow Birds”, I find an immediate affinity, and almost an album favorite. With a steel guitar sound over a lovely clean acoustic, the song draws my heart into it from the very first bars. Hadley’s initial vocal is as clean and beautiful as I would have expected from her. But the key to this song is the lyric, carried by a haunting melody. Indeed it speaks for itself, so I’ll start you with a whole verse and chorus:

“He hatched long ago,
and she’s a fledgling in his eyes,
She wants to build with him a garden,
but he’s only seen them die
Proclaiming “roses only bloom in spring”,
but she shakes her head and starts to sing
A song she knows like the back of her wing,
and she sings;

They say
If you love her let her go,
If you love her let her grow,
The truth is,
If you love her let her know,
If you love her, love her, love her so”

I am entranced. It’s insightful, beautiful, a letting-go moment, and absolutely heartbreaking and empowering at the same time. The metaphor of flight, and gaining wings, is a well-used but powerful one. It’s an extremely strong start.

We move lightly into a similar intro, picked guitar and steel above it. And with a “one, two, one-two-three-four” we are into one of my favorite songs of 2012.

“Gasoline” is a testament to the power of love at its craziest moments, all-consuming and burning bright. What makes this song outstanding is (in my opinion) in the near-perfect construction; it has all of the elements of a hit, it has beat, it has passion, it has a lyric worth following and relating to, and it has a brilliant melody which makes it timelessly singable.

The verses contain so many quotable lines, among my favorite is:

“I am old enough to know I am naive
I know I’m not as wise,
but Pollock and Picasso made a masterpiece, in your eyes”

The chorus truly drives this song forward, a perfect summing up:

“Gasoline makes the young heart burn,
but fill her up and the wheels will turn,
Go 65 in a 15 zone,
Hard to swallow,
But I’m willing to drown,
A tank of you,
I can’t slow down”

The bridge comes on like gentle waves: “oh love, please don’t go love, please don’t go love, oh love, I don’t know love”. It’s an impassioned plea, filled with several vocal layers of Hadley’s voice, and shifts effortlessly into a final chorus. I’ve seen this one performed live (at least on YouTube) by several Fish Pond family members from Berklee (see below), and the live performance if anything makes it even better, because you can read the passion in the performance.

This is the hit from the album, with no doubt whatsoever.

It’s followed by “Otis”, a comfortable number which showcases Hadley’s voice, and starts to induce thought overload with another well-thought-through lyric. A song of “if only” love, seeing everything someone is capable of and wishing it to be right-here-right-now; that overcoming differences is not a given, and that acceptance of reality, and the passing of time, can be numbingly difficult. “I Remember What You Said” shifts gear with a delightful pedal-note guitar track behind it. It’s a nice change in mood for the album, with complex timing; “Your words cradle my head, but your arms pull away instead”. By now this is becoming one of those albums which I can truly fall into and forget writing altogether. It’s a warm blanket with a bleeding-heart lining.

Following “Extract” (a surprise change in style for Hadley, well executed, and tipping a hat to an almost 80’s-style beat-driven and keyboardy pop number), is “Storybook Worthy”. You can listen to it here:

An excellent example of her early work, this song is so pure in expressed emotion through the melody. The guitar is a lovely accompaniment, as alone as the feelings invoked by the song:

“This my confession, I believe I’ve learned a lesson,
About the fairytales I’ve been learning all my life;
These happy ends I’ve come to know,
Yes they will come and they will go,
but endings are okay, if you laughed along the way”

The chorus is another favorite moment on the album for me, a cry from the heart of understanding, beautiful memories, held never and yet forever.

“Well so what, if I didn’t say I loved you?
And so what, if you didn’t love me?
And so what, if it wasn’t always storybook worthy?
You’re still in my story book
On my pages and always will be”

It’s wonderful that the build is all achieved through the use of vocal technique and variations on the melody, and the backing acoustic guitar solidly supports the sentiment throughout. With a repeated last chorus which brings me to honest tears every time I listen to it, “Storybook Worthy” is everything solid about this album; a continued theme which doesn’t let up through the entire body of work.

“Well I loved you”

Hadley Kennary 5

“Tangled” brings us an upbeat interlude, it’s a smiling moment, still on the theme of yearning and love, with a very noteworthy chord structure at the back end of the verses, and listen out for that Hadley-uniqueness again in the word “Tangled” at the start of the chorus. “Lead” is another familiar song from early days, and has a catchy angle, drum-led, with the use of harmony throughout. “Cry of the Flypaper” follows; and it strikes me it’s nice as a listener to hear how spread these beautiful acoustic songs are, with that steel guitar. These are strong mid-end-album songs, keeping the listener involved, and if you’re anything like me, by now you have become a true fan.

And so to the title, and final, track, “In Fall”.

Gritty and radio-like at it’s start, “In Fall” is the whole point, and draws the theme to a thoughtful close. The piano is welcome, calming, and a soft start to this last work on the album. As it turns out it builds into the coming of age that I hoped for in the end:

“Mother I didn’t get your control,
Though I tried to rule the world;
And I’d like to think I have your organic soul
But I’m just your little girl;
Oh mother I am in your hands,
So shake my bones and shake your lands,
And fall down, down, down,
Fall down”

For me, it’s the story of a child growing, wind beneath the wings, and the acceptance, maturity, and wisdom which comes with the generations.  For you, it may be something different.  But then in that diversity of opinion is the true beauty of well-written songs.

Perhaps you can tell that I’m a fan. This album yields so many treasures, and is one of the few with which I can close my eyes and follow through as a perfect building story. Its theme is love, loss, growing, and so much more. It’s essence is powerful, underpinned with super writing and execution of both instrumentals and vocal. But it is in this last where the truly remarkable moments lie. Hadley’s voice always was a force of nature. This album proves that intelligent writing and heart, put together and poured out with all the passion and belief of a very talented musician, really, really works.

David Mark Smith
Singer/Songwriter, My Lucky Fish
Founder, www.globalmusiciansfishpond.com

You can buy the album here on iTunes.

You can read more about Hadley here at here Fish Pond profile and enjoy some of these songs before album mastering came about.


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