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Saturday, 20th April 2019
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Merry Hell: The Ghost In Our House

Merry HellThree.  It's a nervous number for those who pursue artistic endeavours, whether they involve the written word, film, visual art or music.  The critics might nod their heads to your first couple of efforts, but the next one along is where they stick the boot in.  Wigan based folk rockers Merry Hell have reached that point with the release of their latest album, The Ghost In Our House and other stories.

There's been a line up change since the last release with the addition of Neil McCartney on fiddle, which adds another strand to the sound.  On Head Full of Magic, Shoes Full of Rain, there was just some Swarbrick character who popped in for a single track.  Otherwise, it's as you were. Virginia Kettle has writing credits on roughly half of the tracks, while other members of the band weigh in with the rest.  Andrew Kettle shares lead vocals with Virginia and hubby John Kettle takes care of production duties. 

Overall, The Ghost In Our House doesn't have the impact of the releases that came before it.  Any collection of self-penned songs, rests on the quality of writing, and there is not as much here that's memorable.  There's less joy and less anger, or to put it another way, it's not quite as Merry Hell.

That isn't to say there's nothing to savour.  The title track is a peach - bold and confident, with a superb instrumental break that veers toward the Celtic, while Leave a Light On, the duet to lost love that follows is genuinely moving.

Rage Like Thunder is the closest to you get to anthemic, but it captures, the frustration and perhaps self-loathing, of a cosy middle age after youth spent as an activist.    The most significant track is No Money.  Stripped back initially to guitar, fiddle and percussion, and with its playground chant of a hook you might be tempted to think that it's the rambling of a feckless spendthrift. But there's serious stuff to follow.

Merry Hell identify the obscenity, that a large portion of Britain's population who work full-time  can't pay both the food and heating bill, whilst the mainstream politicians don't give a toss.

Maybe the country's dozy electorate will realise that eventually.  But they'll have to tear themselves away from The X-Factor, benefits porn and Jeremy bleeding Clarkson first.

The Ghost In Our House and other stories is released on Mrs Casey Records.  The band are playing the following dates in the region covered by this site.


24th: Widnes: The Studio: Merry Hell: Benefit Gig for PAPAYUS (preventing Young Suicides)
25th: Manchester: The Ruby Lounge: Merry Hell + Liam McClair


9th: Wigan: The Old Courts: Merry Hell + Headsticks +TBC
14th: Glossop: The Globe: Merry Hell Acoustic
15th: Ulverston: Sports Club: Merry Hell Acoustic: Susan Leeming memorial Concert.

- Les Pilling


Merry Hell

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