10 Aug 2022

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Kerryn Fields - Album Review: Water

19 Aug 2021 // A review by Roger Bowie

At last, some 2 ½ years after seeing her for the first time and hearing some new songs, Kerryn Field’s sophomore album, Water hit my inbox (thanks Kerryn) and is now firmly ensconced in my hard drive. Now I can listen to the whole collection, and from the opening unaccompanied courageously operatic shrill, Atlantis emerges… we’ve heard this song before, the one which pays homage to Rust Never Sleeps and Pocahontas and the death wish which surges in response to the way Kerryn’s partner loves that song. To die for. And that’s Atlantis, an emotional vibrato quiver of love undreamed and unheard of and now lost in an agonising wolf howl of pain and grief and subsidence to the sea floor.

The lady has such power and reach. “loving you…..is a dance to a tune” from Aurora Borealis to submerged Atlantis to a dance to the moon. Mournful fiddle.

Escape, then, to the open road, ride through the night, just get out of town. Start slow and slowly build “I need to escape”….. Motorbike and train lifts the song to a sunrise crescendo..

Queenie came out earlier this year, and here comes the Joan Baez baritone as the rejuvenating spirit of the escape turns her from abandoned grief to Queen of the Road and sense, just sense the indomitable spirit and cheek which has characterised the King Country Queenie’s life journey.

Until You comes along, another song we heard in Gore two centuries ago, and here we go again, the pleasures of new love, release the heart from its box, exceptional, beautiful, wonderful as the voice soars and dives like an eagle and lands in the promise of newfound bliss.

Kerryn Fields is irrepressible and often irreverent, there is a sparkle in the eye and a spring in the step and a smile in the voice as she assures us that all this heartache is but transitory; the real message is how to enjoy life Out on the Porch smoking Willie Nelsons, drinking Johnny Cash and preparing to go out with a bang! Oh, the joy. This song would be best sung with whiskey and the Reverend Peyton presiding over last rites. Maybe someday….

Oh, here comes Mamma, the quintessentially country song which deservedly won the MLT NZ Songwriter’s Award in Gore oh so long ago. And Mamma was there at the time, all the way from Te Kuiti as Kerryn pays homage to a mother’s unconditional love: "only a Mamma’s love can save you, after you’ve messed up your whole damn life”… oh, come on Kerryn, your tongue is full of cheek!!

Hang on, here comes Justin Townes Earle, an upbeat song with a dark, sad theme, as he was well known for, and we’re rocking along St Kilda Pier, a famous icon in Australian folklore, made so by a bushwacker named Kelly but not Ned.

Where I’ve Been, where have you been, Kerryn? Is this Canada or the outback which you don’t know? Another escape, another journey to who knows where, but at least she knows where she’s been, maybe……

Black Fire returns to the theme of grief and sadness and a version of black dog which burns like fire and there’s not enough water to drown, in contrast to the lush arrangement which builds and slows. Once again, a masterly juxtaposition of sound and lyric.

But redemption can perhaps be found from revisiting the place of family discord when she was just Fifteen and finally coming to terms. Some things don’t change, life rolls on and the old pick-up truck is still prowling the streets of Te Kuiti looking for all the dogs her grandpa went to see men about.

Recorded live in studio with Joshua Barber on drums, Ben Franz on bass and pedal steel, Jen Anderson on fiddle, Harley Stewart on guitar and Ryan Brewer on keyboards. Produced by Kerryn herself alongside Fraser Montgomery and mixed/mastered by Adam Dempsey. Awesome!

Check out Water, it’s out now on all the major services. It’s well worth the wait, it’s well worth its weight as well, even though I can't wait to see Kerryn live again. Hurry home, King Country troubadour!!

Check out Kerryn's interview on 'It’s a wrap with Roger', hear all about Water from the Kerryn’s mouth, and just soak in the warmth and the passion of a very funny lady with an extraordinary voice and a story to tell.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

About Kerryn Fields

Fuelled by humility, integrity and a raw clarity of vision, Kerryn Fields paints enduring musical portraits that detail the colour and feeling of everything that makes us human.

Drawing comparisons with the likes of timeless creators, Cat Stevens, Townes Van Zandt, Joan Baez, Neil Young, and more, Fields’ trademark warmth of character - evident in both life and music - fuels a creative offering that’s equal parts captivating, refined and heartrendingly insightful.

It’s for good reason too, because life is something this artist has lived. Fields grew up in Te Kuiti, NZ, a farming community in which both her family and others’ work hard to make ends meet. With Mum on guitar and Dad fuelling an obsession with radio, cassettes and vinyl LPs by all of music’s greats, there was a life lesson in every song of Fields’ childhood.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Kerryn Fields


Year: 2021
Type: Album
Year: 2015
Type: Album

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