Release Date: 5/12/15
Maura Kennedy, a veteran East Coast singer songwriter known for her angelic voice and straight-to-the heart melodies, teams up with widely published California poet B.D. Love to create “Villanelle: The Songs of Maura Kennedy and B.D. Love,” a highly anticipated and unique collection of songs.
After meeting last summer and discussing music and poetry, an idea was hatched between the pair. B.D. would provide Maura with original poetry, making no attempt to construct typical song forms. Anything from modern verse to tightly composed sonnets would be fair game, and Maura’s ground rule was to weave his words into melodies without changing their form; without turning them into well-worn song forms. Cliché’s were off the table. The challenge produced a new kind of melody writing where rhythm and phrasing followed poetic image, rather than the other way around.
Five and a half weeks later, the project was fully written and recorded. Maura sums it up this way: “B.D.'s lyrics are much different than anything I would naturally write, set in all sorts of poetic styles not common in songwriting, some with odd-length sections and stand-alone lines. As a result of his creative approach, I find I'm writing melodies I never would have imagined before. The real trick is to fit my music to these challenging forms without having them sound forced. It's made me a much better, more interesting songwriter as a result.”
The textures on “Villanelle: The Songs of Maura Kennedy and B.D. Love” range from rocking and rootsy to gossamer and lacy, but the intertwining threads of Maura’s voice and melodies with B.D.’s lyrics, weave a fabric that unfolds on its own cutting edge. It sounds unique, and amid today’s media clatter, that is something to celebrate.
B.D.'s poems are more than just a challenge for Maura's songcraft. The images reflect his experience from years of teaching college writing, and his lyrics address his many concerns: the landscape of the still-wild west that he loves, the left-for-dead and abandoned animals he has rescued, the issues facing a diverse parade of immigrant students, and the reemerging natural beauty of his beloved L.A. River which he, as an activist, has helped bring about. It's not too strong to state that through his words and Maura's melodies, the voiceless are given a voice.
Maura Kennedy is one half of the Americana duo, The Kennedys. She has released over a dozen albums in the past 20 years. Artists including Nanci Griffith and Southside Johnny have covered her songs.
B.D. Love has had several books of poems and fiction released, and his work has been published in over a hundred literary journals.
Scholar Patrick J. Keane says this about their collaboration in the April 2015 issue of Numéro Cinq Magazine:
"The music Maura wrote for B.D. Love’s words verges on the magical, and the poignant lyrics evoked for me the love poems written by W. B. Yeats for his enchantress and muse."