Listening to Rochdale’s Kid Called Sorrow is like putting on some vinyl on a rainy day, where you can sit back, gather your thoughts and have a mug of hot tea. It’s music which is neither ostentatious nor overly emotional. Instead Kid Called Sorrow sings with an unassuming, detached melancholy, an authentic nobility which makes his music timeless and accessible. Kid Called Sorrow reminds me of a cross between the Fleet foxes and a Northern, non-political Billy Bragg, narrating a breezy, folksy mix of wistful romanticism and pragmatic cynicism. Lyrically Kid Called Sorrow is impressively accomplished, whose weather metaphors runs parallel with the notorious rainy North West climate. It’s also the warm ay-up Northern-ness of Kid Called Sorrow and the rich, earthy vocals which are part of his charm. It’s a kind of old-fashioned brand without any gimmicks, which filters through and touches the soul.
“Healing Hands” is a sombre song, whose weather beaten lyrics synchronise against the northern twang: “Oh it rains, oh it pours …” just about sums up the heart-felt melancholy which is so prevalent throughout. Vocally the song sounds like he is singing from afar, perhaps hibernating in a protective shell. It’s in this song that Kid Called Sorrow’s defences are down and his vulnerability is raw, illustrated in the poignant lyrics: “Healing Hands she said she’d got, how are you gonna heal this…? You can patch me up me, you can cheer me, but it always comes around”. Such humbleness is reflected in the bare acoustic guitars, which strum, stagger and stall against a second layer of bluesy riffs which shimmer independently in the nebulous of the song.
Kid Called Sorrow
“Kid Called Sorrow” is obviously Kid Called Sorrow’s signature track, which is kitchen-sink melancholy personified. It’s the opening lyric: “I’ve got a Kid Called Sorrow, he’s got a friend called misery.”, which sets the tone of the song, and is an invitation into the dark, depths of his soul. It’s also a song which is occasionally sung in third person, which could actually be the protagonist talking to his inner voice, “What a way to be living son, you’ve got to hold on...”. Nevertheless, it’s fast-tracks the listener into an animated, alienated place, which cleverly takes you onto a wondrous emotional journey. It’s perhaps Kid Called Sorrow’s best song lyrically as it fuels the imagination with references to the “gas man” and “spiders” suggesting an almost hermit-like existence. It’s also a song whose tinny acoustic guitars, wonky keyboards and busy bass line really captures the sublime or absurdity felt by the protagonist on a daily basis.
“Since September” is paradoxically upbeat and melancholic, whose emotive chorus: “Ever since September stole my sweet heart away” wallows and ponders against the loose, jangly soundscape. With its uplifting acoustic guitar, dipping cello bass and racing, high-pitched piano, it’s a song which unleashes a more robust and fighting spirit encapsulated with lyrics such as: “I grit my teeth and lie, stare at the condensation, since September stole my sweet heart away…” In particular, it’s the semi-ska-reggae interlude and the dual backing vocals that changes the dynamics of the song, making it less sombre and a catchier catharsis.