Album Review: She & I by Kirsty Merryn
by Danni Gillespie
Show of Hands at Salisbusy Cathedral was an amazing gig performed powerfully in a phenomenal setting; however I have already written my raving review for this. The support act, unbeknownst to me, would stay with me for months to come. Kirsty Merryn, accompanied by delicate piano and a classic cathedral acoustic, was utterly captivating . I cannot describe to you the hauntingly beautiful set that she played, words would not see fit to do it justice, but I can tell you about her debut album, She & I .
I was astounded by the singer’s beautiful voice from opening song on stage. She then discussed her upcoming debut album (which I promptly bought on pre-sale and have listened to on repeat). I was hooked. The album focuses on strong, inspirational and historic women.
As a feminist and believer in equality, I did not think I could have more awe for the woman on stage at Salisbusy Cathedral; and then she said “oh and a song about my great-great-grandfather ” - not an inspirational woman, but an inspiration to her and as she boldly and defiantly proclaimed: “it’s my album”. A strong woman singing about strong women and the people most important to her - what’s not to love?
The more haunting and goose-bump-evoking songs are my personal favourites. ‘Bring up the Bodies’, ‘The Birds are Drunk’ and ‘Delilah and Samson’ are the slower of Merryn’s songs: murder ballad, a story of women and the American burial system, and the story of lovers caught in a murderous tale. The lyrics are haunting, the music is spellbind and the stories are tragic; all winning combinations.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. This is an album of inspiration women and inspirational feats. The ‘Queen of the Mist’ is the story of Annie Edson Taylor, the first person to ever go over Niagara Falls in a barrel, and survive. ‘An Evening at Home in Spiritual Séance’ salutes a female artist, Victorian spiritualist Georgina Houghton, whose work challenged the talents of famous men. ‘Forfarshire’ honours Grace Darling and her father who rescued survivors of a shipwrecked paddle steamer.
Whether it’s a happier tale or a haunting one , each track celebrates women living in patriarchal times, and a man who was an inspiration to his great-great-granddaughter. A moving album filled with striking songs, beautiful vocals and some phenomenal duets. A must-listen.
Merryn’s music is heavily anchored in folk traditions, but brings a modern intricacy. A natural story-teller, each song hooks and enthrals the listener. Who are these women? What did these women do? What will become of them? Your questions will all be answered in the beautifully observational lyrical content, balanced with both classic and modern musical accompaniment.