William Matheny's Moon Over Kenova is a 14-song EP. That may sound strange, but it fits. Moon Over Kenova is Matheny's follow-up to last summer's Strange Constellations, a confident debut from a musician who's seen his fair share of basement bars. You may have already heard Matheny as a multi-instrumentalist for Southeast Engine and an auxiliary member for Prison Book Club. You probably heard Matheny's blistering Mountain Stage set last summer, but if you missed it, not to worry: the entire set is on here alongside a few other live cuts and leftovers from Strange Constellations. For Matheny, though, this isn't an afterthought: according to him, it's a “last walk-through of a former residence before you lock the door and turn in the key.”
On Moon Over Kenova, Matheny presents some classic heartland rock with a punk rock snarl. Matheny, like many of his heroes before him, portrays himself as a misunderstood underdog. But if Matheny seems unimpressed by the world, you'll be carried along by his attention to wordplay. Only somebody who loves life would be this fascinated with language. And anyway, Matheny burst the illusion in his brutally self-reflective "Living Half to Death." Similarly, the title track "Moon Over Kenova," is a humbling song for any songwriter. It's not so much the content as the fact that Matheny makes a song like that seem as effortless as a flick of the wrist.
While the EP repeats a few songs, you won't realize that. As assured a songwriter as Matheny is, he's also a heck of a bandleader. By providing a few recordings of the same songs, we can see how Matheny and his band can paint entirely different emotional palates with the same lyrics. For Matheny, Moon Over Kenova may be a document of a specific moment in his life, but it's also a hint at the amazing things to come.