Pennie Lennon’s most recent mini-CD release is My Hearts Dezire’s Live 2005. This EP was recorded live at Cheltenham Studios and was released some 2 ½ years ago, and it’s taken me a couple of years of getting around to reviewing it! Not for any misgivings about the product mind you as I’ve always loved and greatly revered Pennie’s work.
My Hearts Dezire is the duo comprising Pennie Lennon (keyboards/lead vocals) and Bruno Koenig (lead guitars/backing & occasional lead vocals). On this EP, produced by Dave Burgess, the duo were complimented with Stephen Martin on bass and Dylan Huw Jones on drums. Bruno Koenig’s artwork is splendid and matches the mood of the music and the duo’s vibe. All songs were composed by Pennie with the exception of ‘Rocks in the Bathroom’ that was co-written with Bruno. This is as far as I’m aware this is Pennie’s fourth CD release comprising of three EPs and one full CD. First came ‘Healing Bones’ EP recorded at Karmic Hit Studios Rozelle in December 1995, then came her full-length CD ‘Journeys’ recorded at the same studio and produced by Steve Kilbey of the Church (with Kilbey performing on bass & the Church’s Tim Powles performing on drums for that record) followed up with the recording of ‘Live at Karmic Hit’ in 1997 that featured Bruno’s performance for the first time; in my opinion, a series of magnificent recordings.
This EP commences with a song that had been recorded in the past, ‘The Past has no power’ originally appearing on ‘Healing Bones’. This is a more fully realised recording of a song that proves to be one of Pennie’s most popular at live gigs. Bruno’s vibrant and inventive guitar pushes the track with an urgency and articulation that was lacking on the more laid-back original recording, all housed neatly into a very pleasing almost samba-like rhythm. This is brilliant songwriting with strong new-age sentiments and a memorably uplifting chorus; still it’s Pennie’s luminous piano track & solo (not altered from the original recording) that more than anything gives to this track its special radiance. ‘The Past has no power’ stands as a beacon of inspired songwriting and performance.
‘Monsters in my mind’ features a very satisfying and synergistic mix of Bruno’s vibrant and emphatic guitar work with Pennie’s chordal & lush piano phrasing, and behind that, the bass & drums fit in nicely to create an excellent sounding track. Pennie’s lyrical themes are often about change, raising consciousness, being free of fear and limitation, and this song is no exception, “…save me from the monsters in my mind, that’s what’s hurting mankind…”. Pennie is acutely aware of the notion of ‘one mind’ and this song is an elucidation of how individual minds create separation and hurt.
‘Rocks in the bathroom’ is a slower piece that commences with an instrumental passage where Bruno’s lead guitar riffs sing and sway alongside Pennie’s evocative and stirring piano – this is, you could say, a new age gospel of sorts, Pennie’s piano always sounds so Benedictive, like JSBach coloured with sage, purple tones. This song is something of a prayer, with Bruno interrupting Pennie’s lead vocal with recitative half-spoken sections that have the drums pull-back to feature Pennie’s piano and Bruno’s guitar. This is a beautifully yearning piece of music – a terrific song by Pennie & Bruno and it’s something of a new age prayer, “…that’s divine…” Pennie sings at the end of each phrase, and it is.
‘God knows’ follows a similar musical vein to the previous song athough the intensity on this piece is not quite as potent as on ‘Rocks…’. This song has an almost ever-so-slightly country vein, particularly as the verses lead into a chorus taken over by Bruno’s weeping lead guitar over music that almost touches a Neil Young vibe. This song possesses its own elegant charm with a mellowness and grace that suits the storyline and musical fabric; a song with a warm and amber glow. A constant of this album is the synergy between Pennie and Bruno, they work so well together with Bruno’s expressive lead playing off from Pennie’s lead vocals which pretty much makes up the unique My Hearts Dezire sound!
The album’s final piece ‘You’ve got to find yourself’ is again a somewhat meditative piece in a minor key with an underlying sense of drama brought forth by the low bass and drums. Musically it’s reminiscent of some of Pennie’s earlier work with its heightened and evocative melodies and lyrical concepts, “…reach yourself…free yourself…”. Pennie’s piano takes the fore on this piece with Bruno providing the perfect counterpoint to Pennie’s melodies and piano motifs. This song is indicative of what Pennie does best, paint and evoke heightened colours and moods with her piano, lyrics and melodies; there is almost a purple hue wafting from this music, it’s very exalted in its own way, and quite ultra-dimensional. Yet her songs are fundamentally very grounded in structure and possess an almost baroque-like exactness. Very few songwriters possess these traits, or gifts.
On the whole Live 2005 is a very fine EP and showcases the synergy and sound of My Hearts Dezire, namely, Pennie & Bruno’s dual musicianship. The songs are deep, real, and very intricate musically and emotionally so that it’s not as easy an album to ingest as its predecessors although on the surface it is a very immediate and enjoyable listen….it’s almost as if these songs are pushing something within the listener to a higher state of awareness, or consciousness. Nevertheless it represents an excellent platform for My Hearts Dezire as a musical venture for both Pennie Lennon & Bruno Koenig. From a songwriting perspective, it reveals Pennie to be in a place of sanctity and calm acceptance, and that amber halo seems to project itself nicely through this wonderful music.
For details and further information on Pennie’s music and CD purchases, go to http://www.myheartsdezire.com.au/. This is what they say about themselves in the ‘about us’ page:
“My Hearts Dezire are an Original music duo plus, who play a Contemporary jazzy electric folk rock home brew with a twinge of blues and a twang of country and who are proficient musicians, singer songwriters. They are no puppies, except in mind, who have fallen through the cracks of time and different art forms to be here today and play heart and all.”
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