Hailing from Georgia, but based in recent years in New York, Kelley Swindall’s UK tour took her to Margate’s intimate The Wasteland bar, on a wet and windy Thursday night. Her debut album release ‘You Can Call Me Darlin’ If You Want’ was well received in the UK, featuring in AUK’s reviewer’s top album list for 2020.
And her spirited set lived up to expectations, an engaging raconteur with a mischievous smile as well as a very fine singer, the appreciative audience was treated to the inside track on the stories behind her songs, firmly rooted as she told us in the classic country tropes of love, betrayal, and murder.
Accompanied by acoustic guitar and harmonica, she expressed her gratitude for the birth of the genre of Americana – being conscious of her style spanning folk, country, and blues. Betrayal featured strongly in her set, in ‘My Minglewood Blues’ she described the best way to deal with a cheating partner – beat him at his own game – after an introductory few bars of Hank Williams’s ‘My Cheating Heart’.
The title track of her album ‘You Can Call Me Darlin’ If You Want’, she explained, was inspired by the Jeff Bridges movie ‘Crazy Heart’, featuring a country singer in the twilight of his career, moving from one night stand to one night stand as he toured the country – why, she wondered, has no one written the song from the perspective of the travelling female artist before?
And of course all good country/Americana sets must include a murder ballad – ‘The Murder Song’ being inspired by her fantasy of plotting the demise of an aggravating ex of a partner, although she also told us that a female friend of hers was descended from an infamous murderer, who escaped justice, but was forever named as the guilty party in an early murder ballad.
Correctly reading the room as in the mood for a singalong close to her set, Swindall delivered a rousing version of ‘Fairytale of New York’, to round off a memorable evening.
Margate looks forward to your next visit, Kelley! Capable support with Dylanesque tones came from local artist Connor Beerling.