November 1, 2007

Record Review: Kenna

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Kenna’s sophomore album Make Sure They See My Face is gyroscopic: one spin and it constantly assumes new orientation. The general lack of restraint imprisons the artist in “Kenna’s Dilemna,” a specific posture between critical adoration and mainstream obscurity.
So, predictability is not a strong point for Ethiopian-American Kenna Zemedkun, whose name means, “To get what you want.” “Be still” is undeniably Depeche. “Face the Gun” is like a sonic revision of Sting’s “Message in a Bottle” with a Morse code break beat. “Say Goodbye to Love” might be a clubby Mighty Mighty Bosstones two-stepping to the Neptune sound. “Static” is enacted with a heavy heart, and a heavy hand on the keyboard sound pilot.
Even Pharell’s engineering cannot roll Kenna’s “op-art” sound into a slick package. Instead, creativity here is hyper and competitive. Points for innovation, sure, but where is Rick Rubin when you need him?