Source by James Kerry is a wonderful exploration of some of the tunes that form the backbone of the English traditional music scene. In terms of sheer ability, this album is wonderful. Every tune is perfect, every piece of the music crafted expertly to form an evocative, confident medley of songs.
Once again, we have the dreaded lockdown to thank in part for this album, for it was during that time that Kerry had the space to develop his ideas for the album that would become Source.
The album opens with a strong rendition of Brighton Camp, giving us a taste of what is to come, and doesn’t let up for a moment. It contains a slew of superb performances of more traditional morris dance tunes, such as Brighton Camp and Upton Upon Severn, but is spliced with original compositions such as Verticulos, Goat of Dunsdale and the brilliantly named Trip to Kitchen.
In some cases, traditional and original tunes are formed into a single set, such as Trip to Kitchen / Upton on Severn. That track in particular is a seamless blend of old and new - traditional and original tunes that each complement each other beautifully.
The set Golden Slippers / Soldier’s Joy / Great North Run ’86 is another smooth dovetail of established and new tunes, though this reviewer will say every time he hears Golden Slippers, he is reminded of the Route 1 music from the original Pokémon games on the Game Boy. (search for it if you don’t believe me.)
Nearing the end, the album contains what is personally this reviewer’s favourite version of Blue Eyed Stranger (and he’s heard it a lot!) It’s a reimagining of the dance tune as a slower, more solemn affair, and the effect is sublime.
Wrapping the album up is Verticulos, (which is Latin for vertigo, Google reliably informs the curious reader), a tense and almost menacing original tune that really shows off the range Kerry and his band has.
Source is a reassuring reminder that the future of traditional English folk music is in good hands.Alex Turner
Self-released 1st April 2023 on CD and digitally
1. Brighton Camp
2. Goat of Dunsdale
3. Staffordshire Hornpipe
4. The New Land
5. Golden Slippers / Soldier’s Joy / Great North Run ’86
6. Trip to Kitchen / Upton Upon Severn Stick Dance
8. Blue Eyed Stranger
9. Portobello Hornpipe / Barham Down