CD Review – Old Kerry McKee “Wooden Songs”
Newcomer to the dark roots and folk blues scene, one Joakim Malmborg, who goes by the moniker Old Kerry McKee, has recently released his debut full-length album, titled “Wooden Songs.” For this album, which is remarkably good for his first, Old Kerry McKee has given outsider music fans nine raw and layered songs which occupy a small portion of the space between haunting old-timey roots and gritty blues. While his sound may exist between the two aforementioned styles, it also exists simultaneously in today’s folk genre. In other words, it can easily appeal to both old school and new school devoutees, and both musical purists and those whose tastes are somewhat more adventurous in comparison.
Old Kerry McKee has created a sound all his own, a personal sound born from his very center and constructed from the facets of his character; one which pays homage to the progenitors of the styles he employs while saluting its contemporaries. McKee’s sound is also built of a fair amount of contraries, as it is both visceral and intellectual, organic and mechanical, old-fashioned and modern. And he accomplishes all of this as a one-man band, utilizing a range of instrumentation and a small handful of techniques. He slides and fingerpicks and strums on his acoustic guitar. He stomps and jingles and clanks with trash percussion, which includes dangling chains, a tambourine, a small kick drum, and other components. Background sounds include a needling riding the grooves of vinyl to create that classic scratchy record player effect, and other dusty machinery lost to technological progress and the passing of time. And he delivers peculiar vocals that don’t even come close to betraying his youth, since they seem to come from the vocal cords of a considerably older veteran bluesman and folk singer, every line released being measured and ghostly, with a slight boozy and smoky edge.
“Wooden Songs” is definitely a worthwhile album, not to mention an exceptionally solid debut. It was officially released on November 1, 2012 by The Greatest Records, on limited vinyl and digital download. A must-have album for the record collection of any serious one-man band enthusiast or simply a folk or blues fan.
Out of the nine tracks on “Wooden Songs” the two that stand out the most, to me at least, are F.l.o.r and Death, Oh Death: the former a stompy dark blues composition with brilliant fingerpicking and vocals which urgently sing, croon, and build to a near scream; and the latter, a gothic folk piece, with steady punctuating percussion and jangly chain and tambourine accompaniment, and raspy vocals that half-sung and half-spoken but full of feeling.
This folk and blues-oriented one-man band from Gothenburg, Sweden is truly a great addition to the scene. Certainly one to keep an ear out for, as he will undoubtedly contribute some more great music to the scene in the future.