Two years on from her eponymous EP, No Place Like Tomorrow is finally with us and it is well worth the wait. Virginia is supported by her occasional band The Dreamkeepers: Neil McCartney, Nick Davies and husband John who also produced the record. Virginia writes about romance, relationships and I would like to say politics but she is emphatic that she isn’t a political writer so let’s say that she writes about society. What is definite is that Virginia Kettle is a story-teller who can take a simple idea and construct an entire narrative around it.
The opening track, ‘Let It All Go’, is about bringing closure to old relationships; something we can all relate to. Here, Virginia spins a story about riding a bus to do just that and many listeners will wish that they could do just the same. I have a list. The title track is about the growing awareness of mental health issues as more people are prepared to talk about their problems.
‘Union Jack House’ might be considered as a purely political song but Virginia sees it as a metaphor for our stratified society: as you climb the social ladder you don’t find happiness or satisfaction, just different problems. ‘The Butter Song’ was the standout track on the EP and it holds its appeal in its new setting. It is a genuine love song but told in Virginia’s own way – a simple idea wrapped up in clever words and a nice tune. ‘Valentine’s Waltz’ is another story but Virginia didn’t have to make it up as she witnessed the couple’s explosive row first hand. ‘Made In The Stars’ is its opposite, inspired by Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Look at the couple right of centre, sitting side by side but not communicating – all that is encapsulated in the song – “the sex, it was at best pedestrian” sums it up.
Talking of stories, ‘Spy In A Previous Life’ is a gem stemming from Virginia’s fondness for a glass of wine and even she is unsure where the concept came from. It’s a clever and witty tale of a failed career
No Place Like Tomorrow is an album about love, society and, above all, people all fashioned by Virginia’s unique talent. I like it a lot.
Artist’s website: www.merryhell.co.uk
‘Moon’ – live with The Dreamkeepers: