With a knack for consistently writing “melodic gems” (The Herald) and a growing and dedicated following across the globe, the “beautifully melancholic” (Press Association) Scottish folk-pop singer songwriter Ally Kerr has returned with new album Upgrade Me.
2019 and 2020 will also see Kerr embark on live shows in Europe and Asia – including a second major headline tour of China, having been the first-ever Scottish singer songwriter to tour there in 2015, following two successful festival appearances in Shanghai and Beijing in 2013.
It was the critically-acclaimed, wide-eyed, innocent, indie pop of debut Calling Out To You (producers David Scott/The Pearlfishers and Duglas T. Stewart/BMX Bandits) that immediately led to interest – from Scotland to Japan.
The album’s inclusion in a major Japanese music magazine’s list of the “Top 20 Albums Ever To Come Out Of Scotland” was testament to the melodic strength of the songs and the album sat alongside the seminal works of familiar names such as Orange Juice, Teenage Fanclub and Belle and Sebastian, to the intrigue of curious onlookers.
Kerr was quickly invited out to tour in Japan and one track from the album (The Sore Feet Song) was subsequently used as the theme tune to a major Japanese TV animation (Mushi-shi), broadcast in countries across the world and most recently made more widely-available on Netflix. In January 2020 Kerr also had music from his latest album Upgrade Me featured in the Netflix Japan show Terrace House Tokyo – due for international release later in the year.
This has led to Kerr’s music being discovered and listened to from Sao Paulo to Stockholm* as his fanbase continues to grow through streaming platforms, word of mouth and personal engagement with his audience.
As well as an EP release with Spanish label Elefant Records (Camera Obscura / Lampchop) Kerr followed with another acclaimed album – the bittersweet indie pop Off The Radar (“Outstanding melodies and charm. A pop classic” – Rock Deluxe, Spain).
The album was licensed and led to further shows in Asia (Singapore, Philippines, Japan, Taiwan) and Europe (France, Germany, Spain, Netherlands) before the music took another path by working with producer Biff Smith (frontman and writer with The Starlets / A New International).
Keen to nudge him out of his comfort zone, Smith encouraged Kerr to push forward and further develop his songwriting having bonded over a mutual appreciation of string-laden, emotive, cinematic music by composers such as John Barry and Ennio Morricone.
This new attitude, along with piano lessons to help progress his songwriting and arrangements – spurned on by kindred spirit Smith’s vision for what could be – resulted in the grander, lusher, darker, deeper, more textured baroque pop / folk-pop of Viva Melodia in 2013 (“A dark, dreamy, captivating album…the melodic gems grow stronger with each listening” – The Herald).
Fnally, several years in the making, another album with Biff Smith in the producer’s chair on Upgrade Me – a natural sequel to Viva Melodia.
Although echoes of Belle & Sebastian (the Washington Post described him as “Gentle Scottish folk with a pop tinge. If Stuart from Belle & Sebastian did a solo gig…”) Nick Drake, Neil Halstead, Kings Of Convenience, Grandaddy, Simon and Garfunkel and many other artists resonate, Kerr’s style is singularly distinctive and rooted in an attitude unconcerned by scenes, both local and international.
Kerr has kept a low profile in Scotland in recent years with few live appearances. Broadsheet newspaper The Scotland on Sunday described him as “one of the most interesting and creative musicians working in the country right now” in its rundown of the “Hottest Scottish Talent”.
The List magazine described Kerr as “One of Scotland’s brightest rising stars” and the biggest-selling newspaper in Scotland (Daily Record) said of his last album “one of Scotland’s best-kept secrets offers another magical mix”.
Kerr is currently writing new solo material as well as intrumental cinematic music.
*Sao Paulo was number 1 in top cities that steamed Ally Kerr on Spotify during the last 28 days. Stockholm was 10th.
“A great songwriting talent from Scotland” – Bob Harris, BBC
“Quietly confident third album from Glasgow pop-folkie……there’s wisps of cinematic wistfulness, there’s a bit of Paul Simon and emotional resilience which hints, quietly, at Ennio Morricone” 8/10 – UNCUT magazine
“Scottish folk with a pop tinge. If Stuart from Belle & Sebastian did a solo gig…” – Washington Post
A luxurious delicacy” – Femme Actuelle (France)
“A dark, dreamy, captivating album…the melodic gems grow stronger with each listening” – The Herald
“A heady combination of guitar riffs and pop melody has seen Ally Kerr become the next big thing on the British music scene” – Time Out Singapore
“Outstanding melodies and charm. A pop classic” – Rock Deluxe (Spain)
“A sparkling tunesmith” – Metro
“Beautifully melancholic” – Press Association
“Kerr’s songs meld the saccharin side of Belle and Sebastian with the kind of melancholy that Paul Simon’s cat must feel at the end of a day’s recording after milk and biscuits. They are beautifully written and wistful” – Sunday Herald
“One of Scotland’s best-kept secrets offers another magical mix” – Daily Record (Scotland’s biggest-selling national daily)
“Simply beautiful tunes” – Music Magazine (Japan)
“Songs to go quietly wild for” – Maverick Magazine
“One of Scotland’s brightest rising stars” – The List
“Sweet pop gems”, “An undiscovered gem” – Sunday Mail (Scotland’s biggest-selling newspaper)