‘The Ghost in Our House’ from Merry Hell - a large dose of observant commentary(March 14, 2015)
The singularly individualistic sound generated by Merry Hell is English folk rock for sure, more accurately it’s folk rock with spirit, insight, coupled with a fine sense of melody, narrative skill and a large dose of observant commentary. And the comments make some acid-sharp perceptive
observations aimed at our society and its individuals rich and poor, now and then.
From the album ‘Blink … and you’ll miss it’ through ‘Head Full of Magic Shoes Full of Rain’ and participation in the Armistice Pals project, the band now releases their third album ‘The Ghost In Our House’, and if what went before caught your ear then this one is going to become a permanent fixture in your head. It’s all there … driving bass, infectious guitar riffs, dancing mandolin, searing fiddle accents and wicked vocal interplay … but now it’s tighter and more impressive. The scope offered by the talents of their songwriters moves the breadth of their compositions far and wide yet within their distinct style. Heart wrenching ballads sit together with intimate social examinations, sharply focused narratives and accusative anthems, reflecting on futility of war, mendacity of politicians and arrogance of bankers. Whatever the subject, both the problems and solutions come under the investigative Merry Hell microscope.
Opening with a backward glance to missed chances, the title track ‘The Ghost in Our House’ is classic Merry Hell only more so, it’s followed by the wistful longing and profound sadness of ‘Leave The Light On’ brought out by the expressive interchange between male and female vocal leads. They move through energy-infused vibrancy with ‘Summer Is A-Comin’’ and more vocal virtuosities in ‘The Baker’s Daughter’ through the poignant truths of ‘Human Communion’ and the acutely affecting ‘The Old Soldier’. A call to remember why we all once shouted out loud echoes through ‘Rage Like Thunder’, the vagaries of relationships flows through‘Love Is A Game’, while the foot-stomping ‘No Money’ and ‘Out Of My Mind’ give political and financial bastions a well-deserved bash. And then when the end comes there’s ‘No Place Like Tomorrow’ offers a nostalgic and undying call for hope … it made me believe.
Merry Hell are Andrew Kettle (vocals) Virginia Kettle (vocals, banjitar) John Kettle (guitar, banjo, backing vocals) Bob Kettle (mandolin, bouzouki) Nick Davies (bass) lee Goulding (keyboards) Neil McCartney (fiddle, backing vocals) and Andy Jones (drums) with Gordon Giltrap 9guitar – Leave a Light On’).
‘The Ghost in Our House’ and Merry Hell live here: www.merryhell.co.uk
Reviewer: Tim Carroll