Cormac Kenevey: Turning Skies review – Ready to fulfil his promise
It’s over a decade since Cormac Kenevey released two fine albums on the hip Candid label, headlined two nights at Ronnie Scott’s, featured in DownBeat’s annual readers’ poll and generally looked like the next big thing in jazz vocals.
That ship is still in the harbour, but judging by this excellent third album it may be ready to set sail this time.
Turning Skies is the work of a mature, experienced singer, charting his own course in the classic lineage of male vocalists such as Mel Tormé, Mark Murphy and Kurt Elling.
Kenevey has a good ear for material that sits well with his soft-spoken, natural style, taking songs by Paul Simon, James Taylor and Kristina Train and making them his own.
On the album’s opening track, Big Day, he even writes his own touching lyrics to Brad Mehldau’s Sky Turning Grey, receiving a nod of approval from the great pianist.
Sung to his young son, lyrics such as “I’ll teach you what I can, but you’ll find out when you’re a man I’m just a boy” have an authenticity that reaches beyond the usual jazz cliches and bodes well for the next phase of Kenevey’s career.