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Friday 14 June 2024

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Rebel with her Chords – Sandra Kerr

Aug 15, 2019

Sandra is a long time contributor to the of the folk music community beginning with performing and recording with Ewan MacColl’s Critics Group. An accomplished multi – instrumentalist playing guitar, dulcimer, autoharp and also teaching English concertina, she is probably best known as the co- writer, with John Faulkner, of the music for Bagpuss the much loved BBC- TV children’s programme and has since seen many young musicians and singers she has worked with making a great progress as performers. Previously recorded works include an album with her daughter Nancy, a celebrated fiddler, singer and writer, a solo album of her own compositions and her album of children’s songs – all being very well-received and recorded for Fellside.

This new record of 13 songs should not disappoint mixing folk tradition and regional history of the North East of England and in particular Northumbria, a mix of stripped down vocal and signature concertina playing and selected instrumental tracks make for an extremely enjoyable listening experience. Her song writing interweaves political themes and women’s issues with poetry and rhyme. The overall feel of the album is one of voice and concertina seamlessly melded together.

The first track sets the scene with ‘Young Girl upon the Road ‘based on a Swedish traditional melody dedicated to the young environmental activist Greta Thunberg. This is followed by ‘Solace’ a gentle tune composed after her mother’s funeral; double bass and piano add to the full bodied instrumentation on this track. ‘Must I Be Bound’ is about abuse in a relationship, the dark subject matter not reflected by the gentle sound. Standing out for me is the acoustic blues Women Having A Hard Time Round Here enlivened by the harmonica of Will Pound. The best instrumental in my view is ‘My Complex Valentine’ by James Fagan her son in law and daughter Nancy a 70th birthday gift to her and all the more personal for that. Another favourite Louisiana 1927 by Randy Newman highlights the excellent harmonica by Will Pound again with vocal and guitar accompaniment – leaving a cowboy atmosphere in my mind.

All in all I think a certain pink and white striped cat would approve of it all.

Steve Proctor.

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