‘Instar’ by Nancy Kerr - present-day folk with the richness of tradition at its core

(August 09, 2016)

Poetic lyrics, warmly embracing vocals, intricate instrumentation, subtly observed pastoral influences, engrossing narratives ... ‘Instar’ the new album from Nancy Kerr, releases on 16 September. Revealing its examinations of balance and relationship between the laws of nature and the human condition through perspectives of birth, vulnerability, Nancy Kerr - instarcovertenacity, injustice, liberty, oppression and re-birth, ‘Instar’ is a truly meaningful album of illuminating beauty.

Folk music needs album such as this. Nancy Kerr writes powerful songs taking subjects wide and varied to forge them with lyrics of potent expression allied to luscious melodies. The opener ‘Instar’ and the closer ‘Silver Sage’ take their inspirations from Rob Cowen’s ‘Common Ground’ to look at a pastoral world sharply paralleling our own. Examining individual tracks relates the listener’s preferences, yet all of this album is magnificent, however to share my favourites ... the harsh truths of ‘Farewell Stony Ground’ relate practical observations of an unequal society, ‘Written On My Skin’ offers a stark tale of resolute courage while the clarity of ‘Gingerbread’ brings life into perspective. There’s the hook-rich ebullience of ‘Light Rolls Home’, gentle reflection of ‘Seven Notes (Adieu My Love)’ the incredibly moving ‘Sisterhood’ with mournful slide guitar, and when it comes to ‘Oh England Dear’ you’re listening to a song that could easily become a piece of classic English folk. ‘Instar’ is a collection of present-day folk with the richness of tradition at its core.

Playing on the album are Nancy Kerr (voice, violin, viola, acoustic and electric guitars) and The Sweet Visitor Band are Tom Wright (drums, percussion, acoustic and electric guitars, organ wurlitzer piano, voice) James Fagan (bouzouki, mandolin, acoustic and electric guitars, voice) Rowan Rheingans (banjo, bansitar, violin, viola, voice) Tim Yates (double bass, voice) Greg Russell (electric guitar, voice) and guest C J Hillman (12-string electric guitar, pedal steel).

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Review: Tim Carroll

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