“Kensico was born between a long night of love making and a big slap in the face…it feels beautiful and it sadly hurts in the meantime.” Thus begins the journey of Kensico, the bruised brainchild of Montreal-based singer-songwriter Gaëlle Bellaunay.
Kensico represents the kismet collaboration of Bellaunay, producers DARAN, Mathias “Schneebi” Schneeberger (Gutter Twins, Twilight Singers), Chris Goss (UNKLE, Queens of the Stone Age) and Alain Johannes (QotSA, Arctic Monkeys). Fans of these artists won’t be surprised to learn that Kensico hung their spurs at the legendary Rancho de la Luna studio, a Mecca of the latter-day rock set.
This an impressive landing for Bellaunay, who gained the attention of the Joshua Tree luminaries after settling in Montreal and making the rounds with a nine-track demo. Parisian by birth, Bellaunay credits road trips through Lakota deserts with informing her worldview, along with influences like PJ Harvey and Joy Division.
Kensico’s upcoming LP White Sage promises to expand her singer-songwriter palette into a full-fledged studio band. A handful of preview tracks tantalize with a dark tone — you can hear bat-country classicists 16 Horsepower in the sonorous guitars, while Bellaunay’s ominous lyrics about loves-that-never-were and attacks by “billions of skulls” wouldn’t be out of place in one of Myssouri‘s Cormac McCarthy-derived desert dirges.
Drawing from the same sort of minor-key ’90s alt-rock as those groups, Kensico’s preview tracks stoically resist the full-tilt boogie of Southern-fried rock, instead keeping the melancholic metronome of a lonely walk into the nighted New Mexico buttes. This is no acoustic mumblecore posturing — this is full-throated American Gothic, and soulful atmosphere abounds. White Sage is going to be a walk to remember.