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Kerri Simpson (+ Vévé)


Country of origin:

Australia

Type of music generally:

Kerri Simpson's work has changed genres multiple times. Her recent work ranges from country, roots, to blues and Vodou spiritual music. Her early work is beautiful and fierce evocative/eclectic rock.

Status:

Most recent album, 4am (2013)

See also:

Kerri Simpson's site

Kerri Simpson's MySpace page

CDBaby's Kerri Simpson page

Kerri Simpson is also in the Group Gospel Belles (CD Baby page)

Comparisons:

Sara Craig, PJ Harvey, Dalbello, Margot Smith and other gutsy female rock singers. (Neile)

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Earthy, gritty female rock. (jmgurley@drizzle.com)

Passionate rock that pulls influences from all over and weaves them into unforgettable songs. An amazing rich voice, a rich musical tradition, and an impressive depth of songwriting. I don't hear at all what John Drummond does below, but I haven't listened to Diamanda Galás extensively, and never much listened to Pat Benatar', so it just may be that I'm coming from a different reference point. To me she's more along the Sara Craig, PJ Harvey, Dalbello, Margot Smith, Anhai, Sinéad O'Connor's The Lion and The Cobra ("Troy") line. Her work is strong, emotive world-flavoured rock, and I could listen to it forever. And do. (Neile)

her voice is uncannily like Diamanda's in certain instances...however, most of her songs are in a more hard rock ballad vein...her song "Painting Blue Soldiers" is so '80s hair metal but she really can sing so well, so she somethefuckhow gets away with it. I only have her debut EP Vévé and her first full-length The Arousing...she's certainly not the absolute out-and-out musical genius that Diamanda Galás is, but hey, only Diamanda can be Diamanda...Kerri is on the middle ground between Polly Harvey, Diamanda Galás, and, like, Pat Benatar...if such a thing can be believed. I recommend her, but I definitely admit having described her to my friends as Diamanda Galás singing Pat B. Part of it is its schlock value...however, she's released an album of old blues standards that I'm going to get around to ordering one of these damn days, because I'm sure she'd really be able to breathe fire into those songs...purely as a singer, she's extraordinarily formidable, there's no denying that, and on that level, I cannot say anything bad about her...but her similarity to Diamanda Galás vocally and her absolute dissimilarity to Diamanda Galás's whole musical approach as far as composition goes just kind of makes me laugh and shake my head, since I was a rabid Diamanda fan long before I heard Kerri. (John.Drummond)

Recommended first album:

All are great, but Speak has become my favourite. If you're a blues fan, I highly recommend Confessin' The Blues and if you're a country fan, I'm sure Maybe By Midnight would be a good bet. (Neile)

Recordings:


Vévé (EP)

Release info:

1993—self-released—SPUD 001 CD.

Availability:

See Kerri Simpson's site

Ecto priority:

High for those who like gutsy rock. (Neile)

Group members:

Kerri Simpson—vocals

Guest artists:

Shane O'Mara—guitars
Bill McDonald—bass
John Watson—drums
Peter Jones—drums (one cut)
Ray Periera—percussion
Vika Bull, Linda Bull, Rebecca Barnard, Ollie Olsen—backing vocals
Chris Wilson—backing vocals and harp
Karl Hird—clarinet
Tim Neal—keyboards

Produced by:

Kerri Simpson & Shane O'Mara

Comments:

This EP displays in a brief form the power that her later, longer albums will explore more deeply—but don't take this to mean that this is in any way a lesser effort. The songs show a startling maturity of songwriting and presentation—a sense of musicianship rarely shown in first recordings. This is not an amateur's first effort, but a preview of things to come. From the gritty title track to the lilting "Cowboys", to the aching "Is there a colour blacker than my sorrow" to the dancing, beseeching "Prayer to St. Jude" to the haunting "Cry Mercy" to the growling "Lullaby (Merrily Merrily)" this album shows, track by track, the qualities of Kerri Simpson's music—it's earthy, airy, flowing, and fiery. (Neile)

The Arousing

Kerri Simpson + Vévé

Release info:

1995—self-released—SPUD CD 002

Availability:

See Kerri Simpson's site

Ecto priority:

Very, very high for those who like gutsy rock. (Neile)

Group members:

Kerri Simpson—vocals, accordion, guitar

Vévé:

Michael Sheridan—guitar, guitar generated noiz
Bill MacDonald—bass, 8-string bass, piano
Justin Stanford—drums

Guest artists:

Shane O'Mara—12-string, 6-string and guitar
Randall Thain—guitar
Dorothy Fraser & Spinner—healing chants and drumming
Lawrence Maddy—keyboards and midi programming
The Catholic Borogh Boys Choir—scoop, clanger, lout, app and jig bv's

Produced by:

Kerri Simpson and Simon Polinski

Comments:

One of the most compelling albums I've heard in a long time. After redefining her musical career and impressing all who heard her debut EP VéVé, Kerri Simpson did the logical thing and started work on what is effectively her debut full-length album. The perils of financing your own recording meant that the gap between the EP and the album has been a little longer than might otherwise have been the case, but the wait has been well worthwhile.
     The Arousing is a unique Australian album, and an essential one. Freed from the expectations and creative input usually imposed upon artists by a record company, artists often make one or more of a plethora of mistakes when recording their own album—self-indulgence, overproduction, or simply an inability to be objective about the material they are recording for public consumption. No such problem here, though—high production values meet with memorable songs and flawless performances, and the result is a record that could be one of the best albums of the year. Kerri's strong interest in American Indian culture manifests itself on this album through the regular appearance of a ritualistic chant that, while actually a part of the final track, gives the experience of listening to the entire record an unexpected continuity—the songs themselves become self-contained insights into states of mind. This is an album best heard as a whole, and one that is not easily taken in on the first listen.
     Opener "Ah Jolé" does give the first-time listener an easy way in, though—a bass-groove powered wall of emotion and noise hiding cleverly behind the conventions of dance music, it's probably the most instantly accessible track on the album, and it's only once you get to know it on a casual basis that you start to discover the intricacies that are lurking in there—and it runs over 6 and a half minutes without wasting a second.
     "51 Years" is stunning, opening like a scene from a Spanish movie before journeying to a darker place, the lyrical despair made solid by a vocal that renders anything else that may be happening around you at the time completely non-existent. "All Night Forever" brings things musically back into the light, thanks to a delicious 12-string guitar bed and a vocal that travels octaves in the one line; "I Wonder" manages to be truly positive lyrically while somehow maintaining a decided air of menace during its verses.
     "Red Badge Of Courage" takes the most minimal approach of the songs on the album, a single unaccompanied vocal that conveys the dynamics of a complete song effortlessly; attempting something like this would be an unnecessary indulgence for many singers, but this song doesn't need any additional instrumentation—the emotion and conviction in Kerri's vocal renders the song complete.
     "Think About It" (preceded by an amusingly titled and rather filmic accordion instrumental) is probably the most straight-ahead pop song here, and one which, in a perfect world, would be heard on a regular basis on a thousand car radios. "Number 49" reverts to the bass-and-guitar arrangement of "51 Years" but with a completely different attitude, the lyrics here revisiting the imagery used earlier in the album—the suspicion that many of the same characters inhabit these songs is hard to ignore.
     "Billy" is something akin to Cajun blues being hijacked for a Tarantino film, complete with twang guitar and raucous backing vocals; "Free At Last" is the album's most openly optimistic moment captured in simple acoustic mode.
     "Painting Blue Soldiers" (with Shane O'Mara guesting on guitars) brings things to an emotional climax with an impossibly intense vocal and some delicious chord progressions. Finally, the title track (the healing chants here and throughout the album provided by Dorothy Fraser), which stunned audiences at Kerri's acoustic gigs over the last year, appears in a more concise but decidedly more sensual form.
     Music that can find a home deep within the soul rather than just the head is one of the hardest things to come by, but that's exactly what's to be found here. The Arousing is an album that, after being heard a few times, is not easily forgotten. (ahoran@ozemail.com.au)

Speak

Kerri Simpson + Vévé

Release info:

1996—Karmic Hit—KH 005

Availability:

See Kerri Simpson's site

Ecto priority:

Very very high

Group members:

Kerri Simpson—vocals, 12-string, accordion, percussion
Randall Thain—guitars
Chris Rodgers—bass
Michael Davis—drums, percussion, piano

Guest artists:

Simon Polinski, Michael Sheridan, Bill McDonald, Peter Mather, Pasquale Monca, David Bridie, Stephen Cummings, Phaedra Press, Karl Hird

Produced by:

Simon Polinski and Kerri Simpson

Comments:

Kerri Simpson just gets better and better. Her albums take a little time to grow on me simply because there is so much to hear in them, but they stay favourites and return to the disc player again and again. They're worth every penny of the price to import them (Kerri Simpson is working on getting a U.S. distributor). This new album is as gutsy and powerful as The Arousing but seems another notch higher emotionally without becoming histrionic—it's angry, wrenching, beautiful, powerful, and tender. Don't miss it. (Neile)

Confessin' The Blues

Release info:

1998—Viridian Records, Australia—VR028

Availability:

See Kerri Simpson's site or CDBaby

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for blues fans or fans of Kerri Simpson

Group members:

Kerri Simpson—vocals
Andy Baylor—guitar, 12-string, violin
Andrew Pendlebury—acoustic guitar
Ron Tabuteau—guitar, dobro
Dai Jones—guitar
Chris Wilson—harmonica
ken Farmer—washboard, percussion
John Watson—drums
Dean Addison—bass, double bass
Steve Dagg—tenor sax
karl Hird—tenor sax
Bruce Sandel—alto sax
Eugene ball—trumpet
Ben Gillespie—trombone
Mike Andrews—piano
Mick O'Connor—hammond

Produced by:

Simon Polinski, Kerri Simpson, Dean Addison

Comments:

This isn't really my kind of music, but I would listen to this woman sing the phone book. I'd recommend getting her other discs before this, but this is a wonderful blues album! Well worth sending to Australia for. (Neile)

Vodou songs of the Spirits

Release info:

2001—SPUD CD 3

Availability:

See Kerri Simpson's site or CDBaby

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans of the unique

Group members:

Kerri Simpson—vocals, keyboards

Guest artists:

Haiti:
  • Edgar Jean Louis, Mona Jean Baptiste, Violette Bien-Aimé Guerlande Joseph, Patrice Marie Nicole, Marie Ketty Paul, Marie Saintelia Fortuné Mirielle Jean Louis, Nadia Chrispin, Jean 'Rony Jean Louis, Antonie Frantzy, Rebecat Chrispin, Willy St. Lort, Yves Delva, Ernst St Louis, Marie Carmelle Pierre Louis, Wilbert Louis, Julbert Noë Lils, Clor&egarave;ne Lonitus, Michel Orville—Achadé Group
  • Caitlin Montague—Kreyal voiceovers
New Orleans:
  • Norman Caesar—programming, vocals, bass, keyboards
  • Tajee Quilens—programming
  • Jason Neville—vocals
  • Ricki Caesar—drum programming
  • Reggie Doster—guitar
  • Troy Griffith—programming
Australia:
  • Ray Periera—drums, percussion, Vodou rhythm and lyric consulting
  • Javier Freres, John Watson—drums, percussion
  • Joe Creighton, Bill McDonald—bass
  • Andy Baylor—bass, violin
  • Dean Addison—bass, violin
  • David Bridie—keyboards, vocals
  • Simon Polinski—bass, keyboards, programming, loops
  • Peter Mather, Wendy Rule, Nichaud Fitzgibbons, Chuck Jenkins, Derek G. Smiley—vocals
  • Gareth Skinner—cello
  • Nathalie Bourgois—French voiceovers, translations
  • Lou Bennett—vocals, Yorta Yorta vocals, translations
  • Olli Olsen-programming
  • Shane Andalou—loops
  • Black II Black—samples
  • Michel Florvil Junior, Caitlin Montague, Dr. Jacques Bartoli, Sylvie Bourgois, Rodney Carter, Francine Andreani, Jean Luc Rolland—translating
  • Sallie-Ann Glassman—translating, Vodou rhythm and lyric consulting, vévés
  • Shane Norris—Vodou rhythm and lyric consulting

Produced by:

K. Simpson, S. Polisnki, R. Periera, N. Caesar, T. Quillens, C. Wilson, D. Bridie, O Olsen

Comments:

This album is a mix of spirits and beats and Kerri Simpson's powerful vocals. Musically varied (hints of spirituals, reggae, blues, folk, chants, prayers, invocations, spiritual and political lyrics, and traditional African beats and vocals), it sets a impressive mood. You've never heard anything quite like it. My favourite tracks here are "Gede" and "Tamboye", but it's all fascinating. (Neile)

Sun Gonna Shine

Release info:

2003—Belmore Records, Australia—BEL0009

Availability:

See Kerri Simpson's site or CDBaby

Ecto priority:

Recommended for blues fans

Group members:

Kerri Simpson—vocals, 12-string guitar, triangle

Guest artists:

Dean Addison—double bass
Mark Grunde—drums, percussion
Ron Tabuteau—guitar
Ben Grason—piano
Ray Periera—percussion (5, 15)
Andrew Pendlebury—guitar (13) James Bridges—guitar (7)

Produced by:

K. Simpson

Comments:

A wide-ranging album composed of wonderful blues/country/gospel/world songs from Kerri Simpson. My favourites here are "How Long Blues", the African-influenced "Angola Bound", "Call Sweet Baby's Name", and "Moses". Her deep. velvety/raw voice is perfect for the musical ground she's travelling here. (Neile)

Further info:

Write Kerri Simpson: PO Box 460, Fairfield 3078 Vic, Australia (as of April 2008)

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2014-03-28 17:51:39.
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