"Reckless Heart" is delivered with a bubbly joy, filled with optimism and love and delivered with a wink and a sense of humor. It's not the album you would expect from someone diagnosed with cancer during its recording. But for Bap Kennedy, who died on Nov. 1, 2016, it's a fitting close to a stellar singing and songwriting career.
Kennedy has written his share of heartbreakers in the past. His songs like "The Mighty Ocean Alcohol" and "Hank's Last Waltz" covered tragedy beautifully, but this album is an upbeat contrast to that past work. The buoyant "Nothing Can Stand in the Way of Love," is an appropriate opener. It delivers an immediate jolt of energy that lasts right up to the sly closing song, "It's Not Me It's You."
"Reckless Heart" includes a couple of lightweight, but fun honky tonkers that add to the atmosphere, must notably "Help Me Roll It." Kennedy's songwriting is the chief attraction, though, and he delivers on the meditative "The Universe and Me" and "Henry Antrim" - the latter about a true character better known by his alias, Billy the Kid. "I Should Have Said" is a pretty and wistful tune, while "Good as Gold" is a pretty apt description of complete contentment.
While there is a tendency to look at any posthumous release for a deeper meaning, doing so with "Reckless Heart" is a bit of a disservice. It wasn't intended to be Kennedy's last record, but rather his next one. "Reckless Heart" provides plenty of joyful moments, and as final farewells go, it's a lovely gift from Kennedy to his fans.