Merry HellMerry Hell
Album: The Ghost
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 4

Almost three and a half years since their inception and Merry Hell are back with their latest offering a four track EP as a taster for the new album "The Ghost In Our House (and other stories)" due to be released in the New Year.

On this showing it will be well worth waiting for. The band, now expanded into an eight piece have matured and encompassed a more varied style. No longer the straight forward folk rockers, the men (and women) of the people, Merry Hell have progressed, these are sensitive songs that pull your strings that draw you in, that capture emotions that you'd forgotten you had or had buried deep inside you. In short they resonate.

That's not to say they have lost the ability to make you want to dance, sing or cry, often, in the same song.

On the title track which starts with an almost Eastern European fiddle riff from Neil McCartney, driven by strong drumming from Andy Jones, we are caught by our Ghost of hidden fears. It collects our regret s and makes souvenirs of our tears. We keep our secrets out of view "It not death we fear, it's life unlived" , and "It's the chances we missed" . It unpeels us, layer by layer until we are left knowing the truth. Our truth.

Powerful stuff, it's incredible song writing of the highest calibre from Virginia Kettle who supplies sweet vocals along with fellow Kettle Andrew, at the gruff gravelly shouting end of life.

Andrew's voice is put to good use on "The Baker's Daughter", a bouncy tale of an achieving woman who loves a lethargic man, one has to change, I'll you guess who wins that particular battle.

Both the first two tracks are glistening glimpses from the forthcoming release.

We are also treated to a re-working of Virginia's "Nobody Knows Me Like you" from an earlier solo outing. The song is given the full band treatment, sensitive and insightful lyrics that fit perfectly with Ghost, "We are what we hide" the premise expounded with almost an anthemic rock backing from husband's John Kettle's guitar.

And to close, a live recording of firm fans favourite "Rosanna's Song" a ballad of friendship, warmth and wishing that "the simple things are the ones we love the best".

It's a fitting closure to the Ghost EP which is available from the band website, but if you want to save a few pennies (and who doesn't in these difficult days) then in a remarkable gesture of generosity it is currently being given away free on the bands Acoustic Tour at the end of November and early December.

What more reason could you need to support live music?

Ian Cripps

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