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Kirsty Merryn - She and I (Self Release)

Some really fine material here, each song an example of the work of a seemingly mature singer, songwriter and performer. Based in London, although originally from the New Forest, Kirsty Merryn presents quite a remarkable debut album, remarkable first and foremost for being just that, her debut. It all sounds pretty accomplished from the start, as Kirsty accompanies herself on piano on the opener The Pit and the Pugilist, sounding for all intents and purposes like Belinda O'Hooley's twin sister. Steve Knightley takes over midway through the album, offering the lead vocal on Forfarshire, a song about Grace Darling, which is a little like having David Crosby chirp in just after the final chord of Little Green on Joni's Blue. Kirsty's voice is strong, confident and dominant and by the time we get to The Fair Tea Maker of Edgeware Row, hers is really the only voice we actually need. Despite this, most songs about this particular lighthouse keeper's daughter usually gets a thumbs up, whoever chooses to sing it, the story itself an utterly powerful slice of Northumbrian drama.

Collaboration appears to be spread across Kirsty's debut, Luke Jackson popping up on Delilah and Samson, this time providing more drama from a different book altogether. Along with Delilah and Grace Darling, Kirsty Merryn paints bold portraits of Annie Edson, Henrietta Lacks, Georgiana Houghton and Emma Hamilton - strong, adventurous and singular women, whose lives should be remembered and celebrated, and on SHE & I, they most certainly are.  

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky