For me, Nancy Kerr has one of the greatest voices of all time and she certainly has the best voice on the British folk scene today, so I was really pleased to have the opportunity to review ‘Instar’.
Quite simply, it’s brilliant. There are compositions about struggle and injustice, with songs about the Tolpuddle Martyrs (‘Oh England What Seeds’), victims of sexual assault (‘Written on My Skin’), hijab-wearing women (‘Sisterhood) and austerity (‘Gingerbread). There is also a strong natural and environmental theme which runs through the album, in particular in songs such as ‘Instar’ about the passage of time and the circle of life, ‘Crow’s Wing’, concerning an act of nature witnessed above a Sheffield roundabout and ‘Silver Sage’ about the redemption that can be found within the natural world.
Nancy Kerr writes songs about hard and painful human issues but she never quite loses hope or heart. She writes about the desecration of the natural world and indisputable environmental concerns, but as she sings, you can almost see the dandelions blooming through cracks in the concrete. This kind of album is my favourite – one where ugliness and beauty are sit side by side and are examined equally; where you can cry but also take heart. It takes some really masterful song writing to be able to do it properly.
With song writing that supreme and a voice that good – if you want to know how to bring off a truly excellent album, ask Nancy Kerr.