As the daughter of London-born singer-songwriter Sandra (Bagpuss) Kerr and Northumbrian piper Ron Elliott, Nancy Kerr was born into the elite of the English folk tradition. But it was with her own talent and hard work, no doubt, that she quickly carved out a place for herself in her own right on the folk club scene. Her early partnership with another princess of the folk aristocracy, Eliza Carthy, kick-started her career and her subsequent partnership with the Australian bouzouki playing singer, James Fagan, whom she was to marry in 2007, has been a long running success.
But, having said all that, although Nancy has been a mainstay of the English folk scene for over twenty years she has never flown high in the same way that, for example, Kate Rusby has. I personally think the reason for this is simple. Although she has been a hardworking troubadour who always gives good value for money, she has never done anything that you would call really special, with the exception of a definitive version of "Dance To Your Daddy."
However, recently she seems to have found a new voice, a more confident and unique voice. Up to now this has only been heard in folk ensembles, such as the Melrose Quartet, but the singing on her new solo album, "Sweet Visitor," is 100% herself. Personally I think it is the most enjoyable and most perfectly crafted folk recording released so far this year. It would certainly get my vote for "Folk Album of the Year" at next year's BBC Folk Awards, if I had a vote, that is.
What I love about Nancy's voice, nowadays, is that it so natural. Unlike so many of the new generation of female folk singers there is no affectation in her performance. She is herself and she has not jumped on any of the vocal bandwagons which are dominating the tradition at the moment.
The songs she has chosen to showcase on her new recording are varied in style but very much connected because of the way she pulls them all together to create a singular performance. Here is a selection of tunes from the album to give you a taste of this excellent fare.
If you decide to buy this album, in any format, I would be really grateful if you did so through the Amazon widgets in the right hand sidebar. It won't cost you anything extra and I would earn a little bit of commission. It's how I survive.