More than most kinds of music, folk is good at doing a genre piece. I like Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell’s Kite in the same way many people like a good murder mystery novel or a solid romantic comedy film – it’s not a revelation artistically but it’s warm, familiar and accomplished enough for that not to matter. It just hits all the right spots.
Tonight, as I write this, we’re getting our first rain of the autumn where I live. Not the first drop, but the first proper shower beating down on my window. It couldn’t be better timing for this record, the acoustic guitar picking of which chimes beautifully with the rain outside, whilst Kearney and Farrell’s vocal dynamics lifts around the room as quickly and fluidly as my central heating.
They’re good at arrangements, who should sing when, where to the put the trumpets and that extra bit of piano. It’s undemanding, without (and this is a real skill) being uninteresting. This might read to some like lukewarm praise. I don’t mean it to be – this kind of album takes a lot of delicacy. It’s the sort of album I like to play when I’m cooking to make me feel like my kitchen is a more idyllic setting than it really is.
I do, however, have one medium-size complaint. Amongst the self-penned songs there are only a couple of traditional tracks, including ‘Down in Adairsville’, often titled ‘I Wish, I Wish’. It’s a song that has seen many great treatments in the last few years, most notably on Rachael Unthank and the Winterset’s The Bairns in 2007 and Martha Tilston’s Of Milkmaids and Architects in 2008. I didn’t think it needed a new version, and Kearney and Farrell haven’t convinced me otherwise.
That aside, Kite is an engrossing album, which I’ll be listening to plenty more as I settle by the fire and winter draws in.
Words: Tom Moyser