As someone who grew up on a mixture of tradition and progressive folk sounds, as well as a host of other musical genres from the challenging to the commercial, I’m so glad to see that a whole wave of artists are again pushing the genre to explore its potential. You Are Wolf is one of the most fascinating of these new kids on the rootsy block.
Seeped in gorgeous vocals and just as often happy to stick to traditional rules as subvert them, Keld is a masterpiece of folk for the future. Taking the theme of water (keld being an old northern English word for the “deep, still smooth part of a river) Kerry Andrew collected a mixture of folk songs with female heroes centred on water spirits, drowning boys and powerful witches. This she blended with original tales inspired by her love of wold swimming and of vengeful rivers, nymphs and naiads. At times it feels like the sonic representation of Roger Deakin’s classic book Waterlog, and if you don’t get that reference, believe me when I say that reading it with this album gently playing in the background is a perfect pairing.
Where her debut Hawk To The Hunting Gone was built heavily on vocals and loop manipulations to form its core sound, this second offering is painted from a wider ranging sonic palette, marrying old school folk with its modern counterpart, adding delicate and deft instrumentation as a frame for the vocals which are still the beating heart of the overall sound.
As I have said before, folk, like any genre needs to move forward, to evolve if it wants to stay relevant and Keld is certainly the sound of gentle evolution, a clever intertwining of the familiar and the fanciful, the exploratory and the timeless. Change is inevitable, but it is rarely this beautiful.