Songs From The Furnace Of Life - Disc One

by Tony Floyd Kenna

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  • Songs From The Furnace Of Life - Double CD set.
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    Double CD set of Songs From From The Furnace Of Life.
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about

Songs From The Furnace Of Life - Tony Floyd Kenna & Friends.

In September 2012 I released 'All The Colours', a double album which collected solo songs of the previous year and a sort of 'best of Wanman & Floyd' together with some of my own solo blues rock tracks of the previous few years. In the old days it could have split very comfortably into four sides of a double vinyl LP set, each side representing a different colour, a different part of my musical journey. I believe it marked a moment in time and cleared the decks to look afresh at the next project.

The day after taking delivery of the Colours CDs I met Brian Hardman in Dublin. Brian is a fellow MT member and has often been described as a wordsmith, by day Brian is also a blacksmith. The idea of the blacksmith's furnace and forge where both practical and artistic items are created by Brian, the wordsmith, got me thinking... 'Songs From The Furnace Of Life' was born. Rather than just a collection of songs it would
embody a concept with a unifying thread running thru' all the tracks. Life, death, love, existence itself would be examined and reflected. 'Some colour snapshots from the journey'.

Over the next few weeks I noticed both at sessions and by feedback that some of the songs from colours were being taken on board and interpreted by fellow musicians and writers. I had another idea, put out a few quiet feelers and suddenly covers of some of the tracks started emerging. This set the scene for what has become Disc Two of the 'Furnace' album. It was a very natural evolution then for some of my co writing partnerships to also slot into this side of the project.

SONGS FROM THE FURNACE OF LIFE – Tony Floyd Kenna 

Reviewed by Robert Craven

‘Songs From The Furnace Of Life’ is a double CD album featuring 28 tracks showcasing Tony Floyd Kenna’s considerable songwriting talent.

On Disc One, Tony performs his material solo and on Disc two, he is joined by a number of musical collaborators in covering, taking co-writing credits, and performing his songs.

Tony’s songwriting is assured and passionate. His voice has a world-weary growl, is reminiscent of Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits and his lyrics are wry and at times haunting.

The line up on the second disk -  EddKonnekshun (EdDk), Jed McConkey,  Ciaran Brennan, Nate Logston, Greg Clifford, Oragh, James Lindsay, Brian Aherne, Warren Newton, Cornelia Kindlinger, Chris Riley, Geoff Bennett, Murray McDowell, Rhiannah Warm, Ricky Leonard; take the source material and add their own spin to the songs.

Disc one’s opening tracks; ‘San Sabastian’ – co-write with Valerie Bowe and ‘Last Report’, co-write with Cornelia Kindlinger,  set out the direction of Tony’s songs. Crisp guitar playing and near whispered vocals flow through the thoughts of regret and wry acceptance of things we have no control of.

‘San Sabastian’ appears on Disc 2 also with Wanman and Floyd giving it an interesting re-working and both musicians spark off each other nicely, vamping guitar breaks between them.

‘Heart In A box’, has a Rolling Stones feel, that gradually builds over the solid bass and drums and simple understated guitar. Nate Logston, performs an excellent acoustic version of this on Disc 2 – certainly one of the stronger of Tony’s songs, and highlights Logston’s interpretation of a good song.

‘Alison’ is a slow ballad, is Leonard Cohen-esque. Tony’s trademark growl very much in the Mark Knopfler vein takes you on a journey of a girl’s homelessness, loneliness and decline on the streets, which gradually builds in sparse accompaniment. A thoughtful, haunting song that stays long after.

It’s given an alternate twist on Disc 2 by Oragh & Warren Newton harmonizing on the chorus. It has a techno feel and if anything, more pared down, with the sounds of the street and wailing sirens in the distance adding to the song rather than detracting from it.

‘Existence’ is set up with a Nick Lowe taut-style bass groove and Tony’s vocals given a slight echo effect, creating a dark atmosphere, reminiscent of the Johnny Cash albums with Rick Ruben.

This feel continues into ‘Heaven’ where the guitar groove gives an on-the-road-feel of endless white line, a lost soul on the road observing everything he sees ‘meet you in heaven at a quarter to two’ is the whispered refrain.

 ‘If The Lord Came Now’ is a an almost spoken song, with an early Elvis Costello feel, Kenna allows his voice to drift across the beat and the chorus has a slow swaying feel, a summer finger-snap with just a hint of Otis Redding about it. For me, one of the best songs on the CD.

‘Never Forever’ is a slow ballad, again, the guitar is crisp and clean, the feel is of early Scott Walker, love, loss and regret flow though Tony’s world of a woman who has lost her way after heartbreak. Haunting.

‘The First Time’ – co-write with Davina Brady,  has an electric guitar intro that builds very much in the Robert Plant ‘Pictures at eleven’ album style, and Tony strains his voice slightly to lift the songs feel, a sense of submergence conveyed in the swaying groove – a nice guitar break and dynamics along with the simple reprise give the last section the urgency it requires before paring back to the drums and bass – really needs someone whistling in the distance to finish it off…..
Sublime.

‘Till Death Us Do Part’ has a preacher’s narration to the picked guitar groove, telling the tale of love that ends abruptly, perhaps a tad too short, yet effective.

Disc 2 opens with ‘All The Colours’ performed by ED DK, EddKonnekshun, who gives the vocal an off-kilter edge against the distorted guitar. The ‘female’ vocal line adds greater depth and used to effect along with the Echo and the Bunnymen sound and their whispered line between them is along the lines of Nick Cave and PJ Harvey.

‘All The Colours ‘ performed by Brian Aherne & Wanman Shau appears later on disc 2 also..

‘After The Storm’ and ‘I Can Only Dream’ performed by Jed McConkey (the first two of four co-writes by Jed & Tony) bring a gentle edge to Tony’s songwriting. With Jed’s distinctive guitar sound never far from the surface, they prove how good the material is in the hands of a sympathetic performer like Jed. Radio-friendly songs at their best, especially ‘I Can Only Dream’.

‘My Woman Blues’ and ‘Done My Time’ are performed by Wanman Shau, with gritty vocals and accompanied by what sounds like a haunting woman’s voice in ‘My Woman Blues’. It has a road-house feel, and tasty laid-back guitar solo.
 
‘Done My Time’ is driven by a treble distorted bass and grinding guitar, with Shau’s voice a graveyard growl. By far, my favorite track, one that the Alabama
3 would claim as their own.

‘My Woman Blues’ – Wanman & Floyd with Ricky Leonard on Native American Wood Flute appears again later on the CD also, another fine spin on the piece.

‘Bought And Sold’ – Ciaran Brennan & Greg Clifford continues in the vein, the vocals high register and distorted guitars have shades of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, a jangling guitar in the break, that builds into the call and repeat chorus of ‘bought and sold’ – a quality song. A thought-provoking song about abuse, neglect and death of a woman.

‘All The Colours’ performed by Rhiannah Warm & Chris Riley. Rhiannah’s phrasing weaving around Chris’s guitar. Rhiannah has a rich tone to her voice, a good range and able to skip in and out of scales, reminiscent of Elkie Brooks during her Vinegar Joe days, bluesy but also moving into Fairport Convention territory.

‘Dust’ – Co write by Tony & James Lindsay, opens on a basic acoustic guitar groove with the percussion and keyboards building over the lines ’she came to me in a cloud of dust’, Lindsay’s voice works well over the groove and handles the dynamics in the middle section nicely. It’s simple, effective songwriting with enormous scope in the space to add other instruments. A dusty, neon-stained song.

‘Song For A New Day’ - co write by Tony & Jed McConkey and performed by Jed has a Bowie feel, a driving bass to the fore in the song, with distorted guitars and tasty drumming. Where Jed’s production works is in the dynamic, he has an instinct to bring a song down before beginning to build it – a gem.

‘Hey, Hey, Hey’ – Murray McDowell, has a Dylan, Woody Guthrie feel, played over acoustic guitar. A simple variation on a 12-bar blues, but delivered raw, which is just perfect for the song.

‘Monkey On The TV’ – co-write by Tony & Geoff Bennett, performed by Geoff
and Wanman & Floyd, has a Dire Straits ‘Industrial disease’ tongue-in-cheek feel, with Wanman’s distinct guitar sound, playing deftly. It has shades of The Kinks with some neat studio tricks thrown in for good measure. Some welcome light relief to head into the wind up of the CD.

‘After The Storm’ (Singe version) – Jed McConkey – is the second last track on the CD and it’s back to an electric guitar opening with bass playing on the off-beat against a simple, clean drum groove which allows Jed’s vocals to drift across the song. This, again is a strong song and huge potential airplay. Jed’s vocals are smoky, care-worn and deliver the song of loss and regret nicely.

‘Black’ co write by Tony & Jed McConkey sees Jed close the album with the line ‘when the shutters come down’. A thought provoking song with a Floydian feel.

This album is clearly a labour of love for Tony Floyd Kenna who not only writes; co-writes and performs; he shares a lion’s share of the production too (with Jed McConkey also featuring strongly in this area). The cover design and CD booklet design are Tony’s also with wonderful artwork and photography by Cornelia Kindlinger – excellent they are too!

This is a great album with a great depth of talent on display. It’s a credit to Tony that so many fine musicians appear on this album – buy this, I can’t recommend it enough. There’s something for everyone here and a timely reminder that the plastic, manufactured pop we have to suffer, has its counterweight in great songwriting and playing here.

Robert Craven

credits

released April 30, 2013

Vocals, instruments, recording & production by Tony Floyd Kenna.
Writers - Tony Floyd Kenna, Valerie Bowe, Cornelia Kindlinger, Davina Brady..

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Track Name: San Sabastian (Kenna-Bowe)
San Sabastian

In San Sabastian,
by the sea
We Spent the Summer
You and me.
We drank Spanish wine
And ate our fill
Our hearts entwined
We had time to kill.
In San Sabastian
By the sea
We spent that Summer
You and me.

The days were endless
And the nights were long
It was like a Paradise
Where we belong
In San Sabastian
By the sea
We thought forever
You and me.
In San Sabastian
By the sea
We thought forever
You and me.

But storm clouds came
We washed ashore
With hearts apart
There was love no more.
In San Sabastian
There by the sea
We took our leave
You and me.
In San Sabastian
by the sea
We took our leave
You and me.

By Valerie Bowe & Tony Floyd Kenna 2012.
Track Name: Heart In A Box (Kenna) Single Version
HEART IN A BOX.

Well, she threw me a line
But I kept sailing by
Guess she couldn’t figure
And she kept asking why
But I ain’t doin’ that
I ain’t feeling her love, no more.

Yeah, I have no place to rest
And no place like home
But I’m feeling cool
Now I’m in my zone
Don’t tell me you care
‘Cause I know that you don’t, I know.

So put my heart in a box
Put the key on ice
Gotta cut to the core
‘Cause it’s not very nice
There’s just nothing to give
Nothing to share no more.

Well’ if she calls me up
I won’t think twice
I won’t say hello
I won’t hear her voice
‘Cause she’s got nothing to give
She’s nothing left, for me.

So put my heart in a box
Put the key on ice
Gotta cut to the core
‘Cause it’s not nice
There’s nothing to give
There’s nothing to share no more.

Words and music by Tony Floyd Kenna.
Copyright 6/7/12.
Track Name: Alison (Kenna)
Alison


Alison sits on the bridge
Her hair un brushed,
Her clothes unwashed
Feeling tired and feeling hungry
Her eyes show little hope

‘You have to move along now’
Says the man from the council
‘You can’t be in public view
Or the newspapers will see you’

So, She shuffles down the street
Cold, beyond unwanted
Looking for a corner
Where the World, won’t find her

Alison,
Daughter of our Nation
Alison,
Sister to us all
Alison,
Why does nobody want you?
Alison, Alison,
Don’t cry.

Alison tries to get some sleep
Wrapped in cardboard boxes
Her boots have holes, you can see her feet
I wonder, will she make it?
Track Name: Existence (Kenna)
Postcards
From the journey
Some colour snapshots
Of a moment in time
Some words too
To tell the story
Of the things that I’ve seen
And the places I’ve been.

When I started out
I didn’t know how long
I would be travelling
No destination known
And as the years roll
And the train still runs
Don’t think I’ve found it
A place where I belong.

Now the clocks have stopped
I can’t tell the time
I don’t know how long
I just keep movin’
Another station
In the distance
No destination
It’s just existence.

Words & music by Tony Floyd Kenna 2013.
Track Name: Heaven (Kenna)
Heaven.


I’ll meet you in Heaven
At a quarter to two
Gotta turn off the road here
Got work to do
I never liked those long highways
Those overnight drives
Just too many crashes
They don’t get out alive.

Gonna have me some time now
Watch people go by
Just talkin’ being busy
Don’t they ever ask why ?
They could get off the road here
Change lanes now and then
Do a little exploring
They never know when..

So kick some dust
Get yourself lost
Leave the road that you’re on
Kick some dust
It’s a high cost
You don’t know how long...

I’ll meet you in Paradise
At the end of the line
If the clock is still ticking
There may be some time
No need to be early
You just do what you do
I’ll meet you in Heaven
At a quarter to two.

So kick some dust
Get yourself lost
Leave the road that you’re on
Kick some dust
It’s a high cost
You don’t know how long...


Words & music by Tony Floyd Kenna. February 2013.
Track Name: If The Lord Came Now (Kenna)
If The Lord Came Now.

If The Lord came now
and He said man,
This is your time,
are you ready
to go
to my home,
up above.
I’d say Lord
give me some time,
To apologise for some things I’ve done,
Let me make
my peace,
then I’ll be ready
to go
with you.
But I won’t know,
He won’t say,
when He’s comin’ for me.
It could be night,
it could be day.
So I’ll be ready,
when he comes.
I’ll say Lord,
I’ve tried my best
To be helpful,
to be kind.
I’ll say Lord,
yes I am ready
to go
with you.
Track Name: Never Forever (Kenna)
Never Forever.

It’s Saturday night and she sits at home
Sippin’ wine now she’s on her own.
The builder told her there are cracks in the wall
But it’s the cracks in her heart that tear her apart
Oh it’s never forever, it’s too soon gone
She’ll walk Alone now, she’ll walk alone.

On Sunday morning she goes to church
To talk with God, tries to keep in touch
And she wants to tell him that her heart is broke
But she can’t find the words, she never spoke
It’s never forever…

On Monday evening she comes home from work
Her life seems empty, the memories lurk
And just for a moment she’ll close her eyes
Then she remembers, she must realize
It’s never forever…
Track Name: The First Time (Kenna-Brady)
The First Time - Tony Floyd Kenna & Davina Brady.

I had to hold my breath
The First time
I had to close my eyes
The first time.

We were souls
Floating
Our two hearts
Beating
We were lost
Out there
We were found…