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BARRY KERR - Boy In A Boat

BARRY KERR - Boy In A Boat
Private Label

Barry is a singer, multi-instrumentalist and painter from Co Armagh who, on this recording, is putting the spotlight firmly on his considerable songwriting abilities. He has learned his trade on the traditional music circuit in Ireland, first in sessions and then as a touring artist (he has shared stages with Cara Dillon, Lumiere, At First Light and Dervish) and these self penned songs evidently emerge from the traditional waters in which he has been immersed. Themes of home, separation, longing and emigration run throughout – themes not uncommon in traditional material – though the lyrics are entirely personal and are full of vivid imagery of life on the road, characters encountered and Irish lore.

There is a lovely, warm recorded sound here and a relaxed and unfussy feel. Barry has an easy voice, and the combined result is of being wrapped in a warm blanket of sound. He is ably assisted by a cast of master musicians (Dónal O’Connor, who also produced the album, Donogh Hennessy, Eamon Murray, Ruairí Cunnane) and Pauline Scanlon’s backing vocals and Conor McCreanor’s double bass are sublime throughout.

Of particular note is The Leaving Song, where subtle instrumentation, including Barry’s plaintive Uilleann pipes and ethereal voices, weave like spirits around Barry’s vocals, entirely befitting the song’s message. The only traditional song on the album, Erin Go Bragh, is given a good, if slightly more restrained than usual outing, and the disc closer, When Autumn Comes, leaves the listener in reflective but positive mood. In between, two instrumental tracks add to the laid back feel, and show that Barry is no slouch on the tunes either.

An excellent album that rewards repeated listening.

Michael White

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This album was reviewed in Issue 110 of The Living Tradition magazine.