alternative pop | Alternative Soul
PREMIERE: Kenneka Cook’s alt.-pop ‘Moonchild’ is a totally unique record that needs to be heard to be believed
By Nathan Leigh
February 21, 2018
Moonchild by Kenneka Cook is one of the most unique albums I’ve ever heard. The album is part improvised vocal loops and part Billy Holiday-esque deceptively upbeat songs about heartbreak and pain (both often at the same time), with touches of neo-soul and Flaming Lips kind of indie rock thrown in for good measure. But here’s the really weird thing: it works. Really. Really. Well.
Cook reportedly came to the style after seeing Reggie Watts perform, and you can hear traces of his glorious weirdness throughout. But more often, Cook seems to be summoning a 1940’s jazz singer into the 21st century. Where far too often working synths under a jazz melody can feel self-conscious and precious, album highlight “Don’t Ask Me” is riveting from the contrast. Then she covers Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang.” Then goes on a looped vocal adventure with unreasonably catchy “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance.” That any of this works at all, let alone so well is a testament to the warmth, personality, and serious vocal power Kenneka Cook brings to everything she does. As Kanneka explains, the album was an attempt to combine the myriad facets of her personality into one little package:
“I want Moonchild to be an introduction into who I am not only musically, but in all areas of my life; The mystic metaphysical thinker, the girl who isn’t afraid to ask her mom for help when she feels the weight of the world on her shoulders, the movie buff who also appreciates cinematic orchestra and more.”