KELLY & WOOLLEY – Miner’s Eyes
Clunk & Rattle Records CRLP015
The duo of Gary Woolley and Matt Kelly has released its second album, Miner’s Eyes. The pair from Cambridge and Bury St Edmunds play predominantly their own material in a mix of American folk, Cajun, bluegrass and country styles crossed with the narrative elements of traditional folk music, accompanying themselves on guitars, mandolin and fiddle. This album has the two protagonists on their own with a set of self-penned songs and tunes that capture their influences and how they have assimilated them into their own style of folk music.
Looking at miners’ songs makes one think of the great collections like A L Lloyd’s Come All Ye Bold Miners and the songs of Tyneside’s Tommy Armstrong which shone an English light on the themes found in American mining ballads and the works of writers like Woody Guthrie and John Prine. In fact, the opening Down Where The Deep Waters Flow reminds me of John Prine’s Paradise, the story behind the railroad from Cairo To Vincennes (not Egypt btw) is a powerful narrative ballad, and 10,000 Stevedores brings to mind Jimmy Nail’s Big River in its descriptions of the plight of the loss of a shipbuilding industry.
The songs resonate and radiate with heartfelt truths of survival and are delivered in a confident assured manner. Gary Woolley’s vocals are full-bodied and strong, while Matt Kelly’s playing and vocals are equally surefooted and confidently delivered. Kelly and Woolley’s songs are well-honed and their delivery is assured and solid. Miner’s Eyes is a fine album of good songs waiting to be discovered and sung.
John O’Regan Living Tradition.