You Are Wolf - Keld

2018 studio album

Keld - You Are Wolf

the bright young folk review

With a title derived from the Viking word Kelda meaning a spring, Kerry Andrew’s second album sees her joined by Sam Hall and Peter Hashwell for traditional and original material on a theme of water.

The sound of a stream is the first thing you hear, Andrews singing unaccompanied save for handclaps on The Baffled Knight, who chances on a maid swimming in the river, only for her to turn the tables on him.  Featuring plucked and bowed cello, As Sylvie Was Walking is another traditional number, Andrews multitracking vocals on a tale of a beguiled and betrayed maiden.

The first original is the experimental Breathe In Breathe Out with woodwind loop, metronomic percussion, undulating rhythm, skittering bridge and the guys on backing vocals as she sings about wild swimming, the song rising to a discordant climax.

It’s back to tradition with George Collins, Andrews’ pure vocals recounting how, after kissing a water sprite, not only does George return home and die but so do the six women who have loved him. Accompanied by minimalist keyboard drone, Down In The Willow Garden is a familiar Appalachian murder ballad, while there’s more death in If Boys Could Swim, an original based around Rare Willie’s Drowned in Yarrow, built on cello and upright bass with
shimmering and rumbling background sounds.

Her avant-folk credentials shape the cello-swooning, pizzicato Dragonfly with looped layered vocals ending with a field recording by women from India singing about the Ganges and the Koshika, while Witch of the Westmerlands is a cover of Archie Fisher’s ballad based around the Windermere myth of female centaurs, bedrocked by muted hand percussion, the instrumentation swelling to a crescendo towards the end.

Charm is just that, the whispered intro an Anglo Saxon chant designed to cure water-elf disease, Andrews adapting the text for the body of the song, the vocal loops nodding to Laurie Anderson, one of her main influences. The dangers of water provide the undertow of Drowndown, which, with hollow drums and solemn bass, primarily consists of her intoning “do not go down to the water’s edge, the children will drown”, ending on a choir of sampled voices.

There’s also contributions by two guests. Lisa Knapp sings on The Weeper, inspired by Scottish legends of a waterfall banshee adapted from The Border Widow’s Lament set to the tune featured in The Wicker Man, while Let Them Be Left, backed by drone, has the poet Robin Robertson read Inversnaid by Gerard Manley Hopkins, framed by a field recording of three girls from Fair Isle’s primary school singing the first verse of Robert Burns’ Flow Gently, Sweet Afton.

A bold, beguiling experimentation with the fabric of traditional folk music, Keld is a striking affirmation of Andrews as one of the genre’s most vital and exciting voices.

Mike Davies

Released on CD and online on Firecrest Records March 23, 2018. Produced by MaJiker.

1. The Baffled Knight / The Shepherd Lad (intro)
2. As Sylvie Was Walking
3. Breathe In Breathe Out
4. George Collins
5. Down in the Willow Garden
6. If Boys Could Swim
7. Dragonfly
8. Witch of the Westmerlands
9. Charm
10. The Weeper
11. Drowndown
12. Let Them Be Left

You Are Wolf discography