PRETTY PEGGY - SAM KELLY & THE LOST BOYS
LCM ALBUM OF THE MONTH - OCTOBER 2017
Release date: 6th October, 2017
Genre: Folk, Singer-songwriter
Record Label: Navigator Records
Review by: Gary Smith (LCM)
Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys are rapidly becoming one of the best young UK folk bands in the country. Building on the massive success of their self title debut album first released in November 2015, the album also landed Sam the 'Horizon Award' for emerging artists at the 2016 Radio 2 Folk Awards. The album was also championed by numerous legends of folk broadcasting including Mike Harding, who played tracks from the album for four weeks in a row on his online radio podcast. This new sophomore album 'Petty Peggy' features the new full band line-up for the first time. With super songwriting and musicianship, it has elevated them into the current upper tier of UK Folk music and they have become a firm folk festival favourite. Don't be too surprised if they are nominated for best band at next years BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Boasting an all-star cast of Jamie Francis (The Changing Room, Stark), Graham Coe (Jellyman's Daughter), Toby Shaer (Seth Lakeman, Carousel), Ciaran Algar (Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar), Achie Churchill-Moss (MMR) and Evan Carson (The Willows, The Changing Room, Ange Hardy), this album is an absolute joy to listen to.
The album was recorded, engineered, produced and mixed at the Cube Studios by Sam and the Lost Boys, Ross-Rothero Bourge and Gareth Young. The albums artwork and design is by the multi talented Jess Morgan with the photography is by another LCM favourite Rob Bridge of Redwood Photography. It also features a host of other very special guest stars including Cara Dillon, Mike McGoldrick, Damien O'Kane and Geoff Lakeman, the patriarch of the very talented Lakeman family.
The album opens with a high tempo traditional whaling shanty the 'Greenland Whale' sometimes know as 'The Whale Catchers' or 'The Twenty Third of March'. The song was arranged by Sam and Jamie. It's a real toe-tapper with a great hooks and sing-a-long chorus.
The love interest of the traditional song 'The Bony Lass of Fyvie' gives the album it's name, Pretty Peggy. The band are joined on the track by the wonderful Cara Dillion who provides some of the vocals which perfect complement Sam and the band. Watch out too for Michael McGoldrick on the Uillean Pipes. Next up an old time Appalachian tune 'Angeline The Baker' (Roud 1834), a sad tale of childhood love and anger. Geoff Lakeman guests on spoons and vocals.....a folk award right there :) The song was written by Stephen Foster for the Christy Minstrels and first published in 1850. The original laments the loss of a woman slave, sent away by her owner.
'When The River Calls' is a song written by Jamie and was inspired by the Scottish/English border 'reiving' in the middle ages. The Irish traditional love song with the genders swapped 'If I Were A Blackbird' receives a new arrangement from Sam and Chris Woods. We return to a nautical theme for 'The Shining Ship', a dark tale in which a lady's lover, long lost at sea, returns to her and persuades her to come away with him to a distant land. After boarding the ship she realises that not all is as it seems. Wonderful electric tenor guitar solo from Damien O'Kane. The personal and tender 'Chasing Shadows' written by Sam is a song for a friend and to anyone going through a tough time.
There is a touch of the same mistaken identity in The Kinks 'Lola' with the next song 'The Close Shave', a very clever and funny variation on the traditional song 'Barrack Street'. It tells the unfortunate tale of gold miners in the a New Zealand town, deception and a never ending cycle. A couple of tunes next Josh's Slip by Toby and Rookery Lane by Ciaran which form the 'Shy Guy's Serve' set.
It's always good to see a cover of the now Nobel prize winning singer-songwriter Bob Dylan on an album. This one is 'Crash On The Levee' their version of a lesser known song, Down In The Flood (Crash On The Levee). 'The Keeper' is always an interesting choice to cover. It is a tradition song about a gamekeeper chasing and catching deer, but listen to it closely and it's like a 'Carry On' film version of a folk song full of double meaning and euphemisms. The excellent album finishes with a song called 'The Rose' which has been translated from the French song 'Le beau rosier'. Sam played the mandolin for Belgian band 'Naragonia' in 2016 and feel in love with the song.