Kerenyi/FSpears – Hurricane (Spotify)

“Small town America feel with a real big world application. Its Cozy and lyrically poetic. The harmonica really ties things together along with rest of the band. Once tell this is solid work from experienced musicians that handle beach changes with precision. ”

There’s no shortage of legendary stories about songwriting duos: Lennon and McCartney, Simon and Garfunkel, King and Goffin…the list is immense, and each has their own quirks and twists. As the world entered a global pandemic in 2020, a songwriting partnership for a new era began to emerge: Kerenyi/Spears, an artistry partnership between songwriter Justin Kerenyi and producer, multi-instrumentalist, and singer Deke Spears.

The duo first teamed up in 2017 when Deke produced Justin’s first solo album, Silent Stars. Kerenyi, a lawyer by trade, always had an affinity for songwriting and had played in an Atlanta area band for nearly a decade. To make his lifelong dream of recording an album a reality, he turned to Deke. The two had previously met through work with the Songs for Kids Foundation, a music mentorship and interactive program organization for kids and young adults with illnesses, injuries, and disabilities.

Deke, an accomplished musician and producer in his own right, had spent nearly a decade performing and recording with the buzz-worthy Atlanta band, Quiet Hounds, when he relocated to a farm in Athens, GA in 2019. There, he began to construct his own studio, Magnetic Recording, from the ground up.

Having bonded over a shared affinity for well-curated music, as the pandemic became a reality, their friendship took on a new flavor. Justin approached Deke with an album concept in 2020 – bringing his songs to life through a variety of Atlanta-based artists and vocalists for a collaborative project.

In this virtual world, the duo worked together by video and email for about a year before having the opportunity to safely collaborate in person. The pair connected over very organic, wholesome aesthetics with inspirations ranging from classic ‘70s artists such as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; Jackson Browne; Bob Dylan; and The Beatles, to more modern artists that include Dawes, Ray LaMontagne, Tom Petty, and Elliott Smith. They also share a common interest in philosophical teachings of Buddhism, Eckart Tolle, and meditation, leading to songs that reflect themes of love and loss, mindfulness, and relinquishing ego.

Deke recorded vocals as a reference guide to inform the melodies and articulation of the arrangements. But soon, both found that those reference guides had a magic of their own and Justin encouraged Deke to keep his voice on the project. To fill in the gaps, Justin and Deke assembled an amazing cast of local Atlanta and Athens musicians to round out the sound … and soon, a unique collection of songs was

Reviewed by Nagamag on March 2, 2022