Gothenburg, Sweden's folk blues one-man band Old Kerry McKee is gearing up to release the follow up to his landmark full-length album Wooden Songs (2012) with a brand new EP titled Letter to a Sick on the HoboRec label. Surely it would have been a rather daunting task to sit down and pen a collection of fresh songs after releasing an album as extraordinarily powerful and well composed as Wooden Songs, not to mention as well received, but that clearly didn't factor into the process, as the songs that comprise the Sick EP are on the same level as their predecessor, if not set at slightly higher place.
Like Old Kerry McKee's other original material since the birth of his project in 2010, the songs on Letter to a Sick bear the distinct mark of his signature sound - dark roots and acoustic blues. In many ways McKee's songs sound as if they are arriving at one's ears after traveling from the distant past, like the pre-war blues era of the American south, to meet with and latch on to the current underground roots revival around the globe. This is given even more effect by McKee working the hell out of his acoustic guitar's strings, stompin' and janglin' out rhythmic patterns on the percussion devices he mans with his legs, and the crackle and subtle scratch of a vintage record player. To go with his sound, which is a decidedly unique one, there is McKee's vocal delivery, and it is one that the listener would expect from a seasoned bluesman or roots artist well beyond this singer/songwriter's years. And the lyrical subject matter on this recording deals largely with human frailty, death, the thriving of the rich and the suffering of the poor, and relationships (or rather, one relationship in specific).
After the intro "Pale," I was able to appreciate the other four tracks equally - the title track, "Helmos" (which I am fairly sure means "Poison" in Swedish), "Cancer," and "Blues for Her" - which is an exceedingly rare listening experience for me. To be sure, Old Kerry McKee's songs are old-soul music at its finest.
Letter to a Sick by Old Kerry McKee is scheduled for a March 29, 2014 release from HoboRec.