Irishman Bap Kennedy, formerly of the rock/blues band Energy Orchid, continues his quiet quest for recognition in the States. It's a fitting goal for a singer-songwriter who sounds decidedly more American than Celtic. With a voice like raw honey and a flair for nostalgia, Kennedy's latest solo album is a paean to an America of yesterday.
Inspired by and dedicated to memories of Hank Williams and Elvis Presley, the strength of this 13-song collection is sometimes diffused by its overwhelming sense of longing and reminiscence. After all, the golden days weren't always golden. Luckily, Kennedy's solid songwriting and a little help from friends such as Martin Smith, Kieran Kiely and Martin Hughes elevate the album as a whole. "Almost Always Wrong" is a graceful apology and the emotional "Elvis, Hank and Me" shines with Jemima Price's soaring back-up vocals like moonlight on the water. If skeptical about the idea of America as a field of dreams, this record at least makes it easy to pretend. ( E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)