It’s a Love Thing
Twin Kennedy Entertainment
Reviewed by Emmett Robinson Smith
Twin Kennedy have a lot to say. The UVic School of Music twin sister graduates have been touring extensively throughout Canada in support of their new country album It’s a Love Thing, an album that tackles universal topics such as persistence, breakups, youthful exuberance, mortality and the power of love.
The title track can be seen as the mantra for Twin Kennedy’s work ethic. The lyrics describe a man and a woman going to work day after day, (simultaneously reinforcing controversial gender stereotypes – the man “firing up his rig” for his job, and the woman working as a nurse) because “it’s a love thing.” One gets the feeling that this refrain mirrors Twin Kennedy’s passion for music: while the song’s characters perform more colloquial jobs, Twin Kennedy’s music is their job. And, from their passionate tone of voice, it’s easy to tell that their work is indeed “a love thing” for them.
Musically, It’s a Love Thing’s arrangements are familiar and conventional. Produced by known Canadian country musician George Canyon and producer Graham Sharkey, the music fits into the conservative musical mold of most of Canyon’s repertory: echoing snare drum rim shots, “ooooh” vocal accompaniment, strummed acoustic guitar, fluttering piano touches, as well as orthodox song structure – verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus.
Graduating from UVic with a performance degree requires a high degree of musical ability, and it’s a shame that the twins don’t use these considerable skills more on the album. The collection’s strongest moments occur when they show off their instrumental abilities. Carli Kennedy’s guitar-driven solo cut, “Interlude,” which lasts a mere 44 seconds, is probably the best track on the album. Julie’s violin chops shine through briefly on the closing track, “I Never Will.” In order to stand out from their country peers, Carli and Julie Kennedy need to bring their instrumental skills to the forefront of their music.
Instead, the focus here is on lyrical content. “Feels Like Freedom” stands out lyrically because it’s vivid: “One hand on the window, one hand on the wheel / Seventeen is feelin’ too good to be real,” one of them sings. Though this concept has been used so much it verges on cliché, these lyrics seem to come from a real place – one that has a foundation in the Kennedys’ experiences.
Twin Kennedy are enthusiastic musicians. The inner sleeve of their album goes to lengths to express gratitude to those who helped create It’s a Love Thing. This warmth and energy provides good context for their music, as it presents them as real people who struggle with the same things that we all do. Twin Kennedy are honest and direct, with the chops to back them up – even if their skill goes underused.
Emmett Robinson Smith is a music journalist and classical pianist at UVic.