Review: ‘Welcome Home’ by Joel McKerrow & The Mysterious Few

Review by Alia Gabres

Joel McKerrow and the Mysterious Few’s latest album Welcome Home is a warm fire on a cold winter’s night. The album masterfully balances harmonies and oral traditions while posing questions about life and the bitter sweet art of living. It would be remise to attempt to describe it as a spoken word album as this genre defying piece of art is unassuming in its casual defiance of genre specific norms.

As a leading member of the Melbourne spoken word community, Joel has been on a journey of creative discovery for many years. From traditional spoken word, to page poetry, to collaborative art making Joel continues to evolve his storytelling techniques to paint vivid illustrations that challenge and grow the artform.

front coverJoel’s current collaboration with his band members the Mysterious Few is a testament of what is possible when local musicians such as Josh Fuhrmeister (production, guitars, keys), Richelle Boer (vocals and guitars), Jhana Allan (Violin) and Leah Scholes (Percussion) join forces. This collaboration is a timely reminder that independent art making is still a viable and important creative platform.

Joel’s opening title track ‘Welcome Home’ attempts to unpack the intimate relationship between creativity and the trials that come with it. Joel’s gentle invitation to ‘just create’ alludes to all things that get lost along the path of art making when insecurities, society and politics get in the way.

The second track on the album ‘We Tell Stories’ is a marriage of resilience and hope that conjures up the ability to witness a new day.

My favourite line in the album is on the sixth track ‘Awaken’. Joel opens the track with the line ‘the best way to destroy a people is to take away their stories’ then going on to remind us that ‘our stories have fallen from our bags’. If you were ever in question of the necessity of this art form or wondered about its ability to ‘awaken’ something that is forgotten, this is the track for you.

My pick from the album is the third track ‘Waiting for the Storm to Break’. The beautiful melodies by Richelle Boe are akin to a soft rug that invites you to let your bones land softly, beautifully supplemented by Joel’s expertise in building an intimate story.

One of Joel’s greatest attributes is his ability to push and pull breath and emotions in the precise delivery of his poetry. Both Joel and Richelle manage to balance beautifully on a tight rope while carefully harnessing intensity and subtlety throughout this album.

This album reminds me of something one of my undergraduate lecturers said in front of a full lecture theatre “one of the challenges of modernity is that through our exploration of the era of rational thinking we have lost our ability to fall in love with not knowing. Our crisis comes in the form of our disenchantment with the world and the universe’.

Though I have never forgotten those words, today Joel’s album has made enchantment with this thing we call living just a little bit more tangible.

Welcome Home by Joel McKerrow & The Mysterious Few can purchased from their website.