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KATE DENNY - Closer To Home

KATE DENNY - Closer To Home
Lapwing Records LRCD0001

Starting out composing for theatre, Kate Denny formed The Kittiwakes in 2007 resulting in the acclaimed album Lofoten Calling. This first solo release of 11 self-composed songs (and violin duet instrumental) is, as implied, a more homespun affair drawing, indeed, significantly on her family history.

The song stories are conveyed by Kate’s clear, pure and, slightly idiomatically accented voice in a convincingly traditional way. Her viola, in particular, adds excellent timbre and atmosphere to the generally sparse musical accompaniment to which Charlie Skelton’s deft guitar playing is principal support. There’s also some effective use of Northumbrian smallpipes and, hauntingly on the song Fear, anglo concertina.

The generally lightly poetic lyrics include some arresting and evocative phrasing and more intense compression as when, with Wordsworthian awe, reflecting on the ‘pitch black brittle boned’ mountainscape of Skye. Tragic songs about Great Uncle Billy (‘caught in the crossfire…hanging on the barbed wire…slipping into the dark’) and suicide victim Nellie Follett (‘secrets and shame will bind you ever’) are poignant period pieces serving as moving reflections on family experiences of war and the treatment of women.

There are also songs about love (the charming Almost Forever) and subsistence (Getting By, written for a Community Play) as other universal aspects of the human condition. Local legend inspired the story of the ‘canny and bold’ sisters of Jacob’s Hall, Great Wyrley, who, having deceived highwaymen of gold to fund their remote pile, were vengefully hunted down and since haunted their locale. Finally, there’s a particularly grisly revenge tale involving child cannibalism and head cleavage featuring a millstone!

Kevin T. Ward


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This album was reviewed in Issue 94 of The Living Tradition magazine.