"18 months after their acclaimed debut EP, The North Farm Sessions, Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell finally release their debut album Kite. Modern music-making allows artists to throw-up ideas on-line ten minutes after they were recorded, but on first listen it is clear that this is talent that has been nurtured, with songs crafted over time.
Delicate, haunting and heartbreaking are just a few of the words that have been used to describe the music of Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell. After meeting at Newcastle University 6 years ago, they formed an unlikely alliance - unlikely because Jonny with his bittersweet kitchen-sink dramas, shows sympathy with American storytellers like Dylan and Tom Waits, while Lucy's traditional folkie upbringing and vocal style couldn't be more English. Their six-track EP entitled `The North Farm Sessions' received 4 stars from The Guardian and Q, BBC Radio 1, 2, 3 and 6 airplay, and sold heavily on tour supports with The Unthanks and Bellowhead, and at summer festivals including Green Man, End of the Road and Cambridge.
It speaks volumes about the quality and quantity of their song-writing that non of the EP tracks feature on debut album `Kite'. There is continuity however, in Kearney and Farrell's relationship with Adrian McNally, pianist, producer and arranger for The Unthanks. Like the EP, Kite was recorded at the farmhouse home of McNally and wife Rachel Unthank. Jonny and Lucy dedicate the album to Rachel and Adrian's son George, who was born in the last month of making the album. "We rate them so highly, it just feels like a responsibility and a pleasure to do whatever we can for them," says McNally, who wrote the string arrangements on the album as well as producing it. "What they have is magical and ought to take them much further than we could ever hope!"
Touches of eccentricity come from local talent including Chris Hibbard (trombone), Paul Ruddick (sax and clarinet) and Kearney's old schoolmate and probably England's finest fiddle player, Peter Tickell (Peatbog Fairies, Sting, Kathryn Tickell Band). While much of the record retains the quiet but prickly intimacy of Jonny's and Lucy's live duo performances, McNally occasionally uses Unthanks band mates to add colour and texture to the storytelling, Chris Price adding ukelele, Dean Ravera double bass, and McNally himself playing piano on the traditional Peggy Gordon and Lucy Farrell's one self-penned contribution to the album, Winter Got Lost."
Kearney is a fine songwriter...His singing is considered and intense, and he seems to work intuitively with Farrell as they switch between duets and solos. She takes the lead on two traditional songs of love and loss, and adds one of her own to this compelling set - ****
-- Robin Denselow, The Guardian, October 7th, 2011