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Kitty MacfarlaneKitty Macfarlane
Album: Tide & Time
Label: TCR
Tracks: 5
Website: https://www.kittymacfarlane.com

Kitty's is a new name to me, but listening to this EP it sounds as though she's been around a while, so confident is her expression and the distinctiveness of her voice. I subsequently discover from the press handout that only last year she was selected for the semi-final of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award, and in live performance she's already supported a wide range of artists (from Blair Dunlop, Reg Meuross and Feast Of Fiddles to Alasdair Roberts and Ange Hardy).

She's currently a third of the way through a national tour supporting Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman, and is officially releasing this debut EP at Easter weekend. Small wonder that she's come this far, for she's evidently caught the attention of some influential folk luminaries within a comparatively short time. Based in Somerset (a region which is something of a creative hotbed right now!), Kitty's still only 22, but the maturity of her writing is very pronounced, in that she has the gift of expounding the relevance of everyday events within the context of life's bigger questions, while deriving much direct inspiration from her upbringing in the rural south-west.

The juxtaposition of these themes is very persuasively managed, especially on Wrecking Days (which explores the impact of man on this planet, taking its cue from a Cornish documentary, The Wrecking Season) and Lamb (which develops a Blake poem into an evocation of a stretch of coastline close to Kitty's home). Tide And Time reflects on watching fishermen at work, while Bus Song (the disc's earliest song, which was featured on BBC Radio 4 back in 2010) voices the thoughts of a 16-year-old for whom the local bus was a lifeline. The EP's final track is a perceptive and tellingly arranged cover of Tim Buckley's Song To The Siren.

Throughout the EP, Kitty's singing voice is striking and distinctive, and perfectly suited to her writing. On the instrumental front, Kitty's admirably deft guitar playing is augmented by a series of lovely contributions from producer Sam Kelly (cittern, mandolin, guitar), with Jamie Francis (banjo), Ciaran Algar (fiddle), Maya McCourt (cello), Lukas Drinkwater (double bass) and Kieran Giffen (percussion).

This is an exceptional (and way too brief) EP, and I really hope that a proper full-length CD from Kitty isn't too long in coming!

David Kidman