Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Kerry Kean. This Song is for You.

Kerry Kean.  This Song is for You.
Kerry Kean, 2015.  Kerry Kean:

The latest release by this guitarist, singer, and songwriter feels like putting on a pair of old but treasured gloves. It’s comfortable music, friendly, fitting easily over the mind, and most welcoming against the cold.  Kean, raised in southern Ohio, lives in the Kent area, having been the piano technician for Kent State University for many years, and runs a piano service business. Oddly, he doesn’t play one here, but we can forgive him. His guitar work will do just fine. In the past he’s worked in rock, jazz, bluegrass, and just about everything else.

This album features ten songs, seven of which are his, two oldies in the public domain, and “Sweet Georgia Brown,” a jazz tune from 1925. “Some Days Are Like That” is a live recording (and a funny one to boot). There’s a lot of variety, ranging from ballads (“Just One Dream”), to chestnuts (“Shady Grove”) to jazzy instrumentals and talking blues. What keeps the whole affair together are the intimate feel of the music and Kean’s sparkling guitar work. He won’t win an award for singing, but one doesn’t need to be Pavarotti to get a song across in folk music, and his soft-spoken tenor works just fine, and has an emotional quality that is very effective.

I have a personal preference for faster and jazzier tunes over ballads, but the slower songs are certainly well done and a pleasure to listen to. “Lose or Win” is one of these, with lovely harmonies by Kathy Camille. I really enjoy his take on “Shady Grove,” with a slightly loping rhythm, and “Sweet Georgia Brown” is, well, sweet. Both display his remarkable guitaristry, especially the latter, and I think he does his best vocals on the former tune. Another instrumental, “Blackberry Blossom,” is also a fine showcase for Kean’s instrumental work. His talking blues song, “Playin the Blues,” is a great story about learning from the masters.

I found this a very enjoyable album, and if you like folk music I expect you will as well. Kean plays around the area quite often, especially the Tasting Room in Wadsworth. Please go see him and enjoy his spectacular playing and good-time feel.

Personnel:  Kerry Kean (guitars, bass, violin, banjo, vocals), Brad Bolton (bass on tracks 6, 7, & 10), Kathy Camille (harmony vocals on track 2), Warren Henry (bass, electric guitar on track 4), Bobby Patetta, harmonica on track 5), Samuel Salsbury, violin on track 5), Mike Stroffolino, banjo on track 3).
Tracks:  Just a Little Crazy for You, Lose or Win, Shady Grove, Sweet Georgia Brown, Just One Dream, Playin the Blues, Blackberry Blossom, Mother Bear, Some Days Are Like That, For You.

Jeff Wanser

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