KEEL HER – WITH KINDNESS: LP REVIEW by TONY ROUNCE

Keel Her is Winchester’s Rose Keeler-Schaffeler, and “With Kindness” is a long overdue, full follow-up to her eponymously titled debut album.  She hasn’t been inactive since then, with releases of collections of demos finding their way from her London home base to Bandcamp on a fairly regular basis. But with the assistance of former Charlatan Tim Burgess’ O Genesis label, this is her first proper album in over four years and very nice (and more than welcome) it is too.

Rose’s voice is pure and clear, and recalls the wistful melancholy of some of the UK’s better singers of the past half century, including two former front women of Fairport Convention in Judy Dyble and the late Sandy Denny.  I might be on my own with this, but I can also hear some vocal similarity with a less likely kindred DIY spirit in the wonderful Lorraine Bowen, particularly on some of the more romantic and melodic offerings like ‘Aloof’ and the opening ‘No Control’.

There are 17 tracks on “With Kindness”, many of them clocking in at little more than a minute to 90 seconds which is a guarantee that none outstays its welcome.  Nothing here really gets much above midtempo, and that works very much in its favour as a complete concept. It’s pretty much all Rose’s own work, apart from the drumming, and was over a year in the writing and recording. There are a few strategically placed, lightly psychedelic instrumentals such as ‘The Astral Plane’ and ‘Life Admin’, but it’s the vocal tracks that immediately beg for and receive your attention – pretty and frequently poignant little glimpses into Keel Her’s persona, performed in a way that makes the listener feel as though she or he is eavesdropping on a private and personal musical moment in the singer-songwriter’s life.  As a late great Small Face precisely put it more than half a century ago, it’s all too beautiful…

Another commendably warm and wonderful listening experience, “With Kindness” is the kind of album you can plop in your CD player on a hot day, open your windows and allow to envelop your neighbourhood with its warmth and intimacy.  If you get a knock on your door from a neighbour, it’s more likely to be to ask what you’re playing than to request that you turn it down or off… 

Although there’s a physical release in the works, you can currently hear the whole thing up on Bandcamp (and of course buy it as a download if you’re not a CD person).  And if you can make it, there’s a gig celebrating the official launch for the album on Saturday July 6th at  New River Studios, Ground Floor Unit E, 199 Eade Road, N4 (nearest trains either Harringay or Stamford Hill)


Find Keel Her on Bandcamp

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