Author(s): Erik Kriek
The murder ballad holds a rock-solid position in US roots music and the Great American Songbook for decades. Telling the stories of sometimes true and often not-so-true-crimes and other horrific events, they are raw stories full of unrequited love, betrayal, life, and death. The song form stems from the Anglo-Saxon ballad tradition, where stories were orally passed on to a mostly illiterate population. Dutch cartoonist Erik Kriek was inspired by five old and new murder ballads — including songs by modern masters such as Nick Cave, Steve Earle, and Gillian Welch — and used them as a launching point for five special and ruthless graphic narratives that dig deep into the darkness of Americana, in which guns and religion maintain an uneasy balance.