Merry Hell : Bury Me Naked EP26.02.2018 : Mondo Tunes (dist.)
I have seen the lead track of this set, Bury Me Naked, effortlessly animate folk clubs and festivals, but to me it belongs, with its wry humour and joie de vivre, on the end of a Lancashire pier in high summer.
Billed as a "joyful, jolly, ecologically friendly singalong song about death", it is also dedicated to those "who love folk rock and like to plan ahead"; in truth you couldn't contain it on a pier - it would waltz and la-de-da its way to the beach, then the arcades, cafés and hotels along the promenade; sung alike by grannies basting slowly in deckchairs and children over-excited by ice cream and slot machines.
Such is the vigour of the synchronised swaying the song induces, it could cause damage to structurally unprepared buildings; Merry Hell need this single to do well to pay the public liability insurance premiums its release demands.
Bury Me Naked is accompanied by three other songs. Sailing Too Close To The Wind is a slow paced, Fairport Convention redolent ballad and matches in quality the equally stately, plaintive No Place Like Tomorrow. There is also a fresh take on Drunken Serenade, the first song Merry Hell played live at their launch gig - already a fans' favourite, it has been re-recorded with the added vitality of Neil McCartney's fiddle rising to the difficult challenge of further enlivening it. McCartney's instrument notably leads the song into a mid-section brimming with life, the Banshee Reel, before the chorus eventually reasserts itself; full of promise, this spirited reading is taken from a forthcoming acoustic album, Anthems to the Wind.
There is an irrepressible, signature delight in the title track on this EP - the singalong musical equivalent of a sherry-addled night out with Victoria Wood and Julie Walters (and don't say you haven't had that gleeful dream). The rest showcase an eight-piece folk-rock band dancing with shifting tempo around the peak of their form. Long may it continue; on this evidence it almost certainly will.