Mike McKenna Jr. is a Canadian singer-songwriter, originally hailing from the remote musical island of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, now residing in Montreal. In April, he released his sophomore album titled At The Edge of the World. Described as a well-written narrative, it’s a timely album where listeners can surround themselves with these musical stories that will bring forth emotion, nostalgia and hope.
“Rather than chasing a hit or a hook, most often I try to find subjects that evoke heavy emotion, true stories when possible, and slowly grow the song from there,” explained Mike. “If I can succeed in creating lyrical settings and soundscapes that transport the listener somewhere else, even if it’s unfamiliar, it can provide a great escape from everyday life.”
With a heavier Americana vibe and an incredible list of collaborators, this record brings forth an all-round wider and more explorative studio sound than his previous work. Produced by 23-year-old Berklee graduate, Quinn Bachand (Rosier, Kittel & Co, Brishen) along with the talented hands of Jon Anderson (Andy Shauf, Rosier, Foxwarren) on mixing and Grammy nominee Philip Shaw Bova (Father John Misty, Feist, Bahamas) on mastering.
“Mike is deeply rooted in Cape Breton tradition and his powerful singing and lyricism clearly draw influence from his upbringing on the island,” stated producer Quinn Bachand. “He blends the traditional music of his heritage with the pop and western musical and lyrical sensibilities of the 21st century. This record is not only historically significant due to the absence of young artists drawing from this specific oral Canadian tradition but remarkable because of its accessibility to the next generation.”
While Mike’s first album was more stripped-down, ‘At The Edge of the World’ delivers a fuller, livelier set of tracks featuring Mike’s incredibly raw, soulful vocals surrounded by a beautiful mix of electric and bass guitar, strings, pedal-steel and drums. The well-constructed concept album contains carefully chosen poems, protest songs, and true stories about life and death in Nova Scotia’s coastal, working-class communities.
Listen to the new album below: