Review: Kennedy Shaw Dissects, Then Reassembles, A Broken Heart on 'Makeout Machine'

Kennedy Shaw MakeoutMachine

Is there anything more potent than young love? The good times are beyond magical – and feel like a source of eternal joy – but when a budding romance reaches its inevitable conclusion, the devastation cuts deeper than any other form of heartbreak.

It is here – in the uncertain waters of a passionate relationship – where Kennedy Shaw interweaves beauty, pain, sadness and joy into emotional songs on her debut EP, “Makeout Machine.” The 17-year-old New Jersey-based singer-songwriter wears her heart on her sleeve as she shares her dalliances with heartbreak using poetic lyrics, thoughtful compositions and soul-crushing melodies.

Soft and delicate like a lovelorn lullaby, the EP begins with patient piano and dreamy melodies in the opening track, “Control Center.” Leaping from note to note, Shaw searches for answers and composure in an uncertain headspace as her voice alternates between sweet subtlety and an almost desperate plea for truth. The young musician’s vocal versatility once again takes the spotlight on the EP’s title track, which finds Shaw accepting resolution in the fact that all love may not be true love, but that doesn’t make it any less real.

Kennedy Shaw

Shaw’s raw emotions are highlighted by a desolate landscape painted with poetry in “Blue Winter.” “I know I’m not much, but I can carry a tune/You make my white winters blue,” she sings with the sadness of someone who realizes a relationship is dead, but still can’t help but to try one last time to resurrect it.

While the piano is the porthole to Shaw’s heartache the guitar serves as an armor protecting the integrity of her soul. The unrefined electric riffs on “She’s so Lovely” find the songwriter building herself up for the possibility of a new and exciting love. You can almost here her gaining strength through each emphatic strum.

Sure, love can result in heartbreak, but throughout “Makeout Machine,” Shaw demonstrates that it is worth the risk because experiencing the emotional peaks and valleys in life is a lot more interesting than locking yourself away in solitude free from the perils of real relationships.

Love takes courage. Love takes risks. Lucky for music fans, Shaw is the type of fearless musician who is ready, willing and able to put everything out on the line for love… and the promise of authentic inspiration for a new song or two.

“Makeout Machine” is available on Bandcamp. Follow Shaw on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date with her latest projects.

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Laurie Fanelli is a Chicago-based writer and photographer who specializes in live entertainment coverage. She is at home at major music festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo and, of course, Lollapalooza and Riot Fest. She loves chatting with hilarious comedians and has interviewed the likes of Maria Bamford, Paula Poundstone and Tracy Morgan, to name a few. She has photographed tons of great bands/musicians – from every genre – including Rob Zombie, Florence and the Machine, Alabama Shakes, Neil Young, Shania Twain, Pitbull, Pierce the Veil, Kendrick Lamar, Patti Smith and many, many more.

When not writing or shooting shows, Laurie loves to spend her free time training for marathons and exploring the city of Chicago. She is a longtime vegetarian and animal advocate who likes to cook healthy, delicious meals that everyone can enjoy. For more information or to contact Laurie, head over to www.lauriefanelli.com.