Ally Kerr

Upgrade Me

Much Obliged Records

THE Glaswegian singer-songwriter Ally Kerr has spoken in of his love of melody, of cinematic music, of music that stirs emotions. His fourth album shows him adhering closely to these preferences, straight from the opening song (and title track), a gorgeous, reflective number that touches on our ceaseless obsession with technology - “Everyone’s alive but eyes are not open/Our tech is smart yet we’re a little broken/Wondering when our upgrade comes..”

The album showcases Kerr’s gift for melody and his economical way with words, though with a greater array of musical textures than before. Another Way is propelled by a gutsy electric guitar riff; other songs feature piano or strings. Campfire has a relaxed tropical-island musical feel to match the lyrics. The subject of Ragged Man is a former soldier down on his luck; Home is a subtly melancholy number with acoustic guitar, piano and violin; the lyrics to Our Town, a tale about a couple of drifters in America, are redolent of Bruce Springsteen. The album, perhaps Kerr’s strongest yet, closes with a poignant instrumental, Toledo. Kerr is a popular presence in Asia and across Europe - he heads to China in May on another headlining tour - but it's about time he was enjoying more fame in Scotland.

Russell Leadbetter