Turn This Sorrow Into Joy
Music lovers of a certain age might remember Jason Kenney as the prodigy who was dazzling everyone with his old-soul precocity and versatility on guitar, banjo, and mandolin when he was still just a junior at Lumpkin County High and releasing his first album. Since then, he has spent some seasoning years on the road and in the studio with a handful of virtuoso mentors, including fiddler David Blackmon (the Kenney-Blackmon String Band), his friends in HomeGrown Revival, and Athens recording wizard John Keane, who added some aching pedal steel on Kenney’s fourth album, Turn This Sorrow Into Joy. These original songs beautifully realize the titular mission statement: hard-won catharsis. Jason Kenny has grown up, but his ideals are no worse for wear. “All Ye Tenderhearted” cheers on his kindred spirits to change the world, or at least brighten someone’s day. Amy Ray lends her recognizable vocals (and coveted imprimatur) to three songs, and Jonathan Byrd can be heard harmonizing on “Slip Away.” Here and there are some surprisingly jazzy, Romany flourishes on an otherwise straight-ahead folk collection rooted in the sturdy ground of his native Appalachia. The overall mood is one of healing. He sings, “This love in my heart, the world didn’t give it to me, and the world can’t take it away.” Luckily for us, though, he is willing to share it.