LCM ALBUM OF THE WEEK
THE LOST BOYS - SAM KELLY
Release Date: 20th Nov 2015
Genre: Folk, Singer-Songwriter, Folk-Rock, Americana, Acoustic
Location: Cornwall (UK)
Record Label: TCR Music
One of the rapidly rising young stars of UK Folk is multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Sam Kelly. His excellent debut album 'The Lost Boys' certainly doesn't disappoint. The album largely comprises of new arrangements of traditional songs with some great self-penned or co-written original tracks. They are fusion of English/Irish Folk, Americana & Roots music and feel very fresh, powerful and vibrant. Musicially the album has touches of Blair Dunlop, Gilmore and Roberts, Seth Lakeman and not unsurprisely Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar. There is a real punch, energy and drive to some of the tracks, perfectly balanced with some very sublime tender and reflective songs. It's an outstanding quality album throughout with some excellent production values. One which demands repeated plays. Highly recommended.
All his hard work was recently rewarded as Sam won the very deserved BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Best Newcomer (Horizon) Sam is joined on the album by his musical trio partners Jamie Francis (banjo) and Evan Carson (percussion) plus Ciaran Algar (fiddle) and Graham Coe (cello). These form his new very talented touring band called 'The Lost Boys', hence the name of the album. In the studio recording they are also joined by Kitty Macfarlane (vocals), Josh Franklin (electric bass) and Lukas Drinkwater (double bass). Sam has been on our LCM favourites 'watchlist' for a while now, after we throughly enjoyed his two previous highly acclaimed EP's "Your Way Home" and "Spokes".
The first track ‘Jolly Waggoners’ sets the scene perfectly with great reworking of the classic #Roud 1088, first collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams and most notably covered by The Watersons. Sam and the band have created a very strong arrangement here with Ciaran's fiddle weaving in and out of the strong fingerstyle banjo playing of Jamie. Sam's vocal soars above the arrangement, from the acapella opening through the band’s tight harmonies to the unaccompanied ensemble close. It is always a popular live 'sing a long'. In the song a waggoner looks back on his life. His parents had disapproved of his choice of profession, but has no regrets. He can be cold and wet, but he simply stops at the next inn and sits with the landlord drinking. In the summer he hears the birds sing. In the autumn he has lots of work and the money rolls in. What a great life!
Next up Jamie lets rip with his banjo with a instrumental entitled 'Banish Misfourtune'. It is a high tempo fusion of Irish Folk and Bluegrass with Evan's bodhran providing the great underlying rythm and Ciaran expert fiddle playing weaving through the melody line.
The 19th century ‘Six Miners’ (Roud 877), or ‘Six Jolly Miners’ as it’s also known, has always been a popular traditional song in mining areas in the UK. A hopefully and desperate search for Utah gold. In this dark tail six miners started only one returned......
Another traditional arrangement 'The Kings Shilling' features Kitty's gorgeous pure vocals joining Sam, over very catchy riff which sparkles with Jamie’s banjo and driving percussion from Evan.
With it's dark themes, southern US murder ballad 'Little Sadie' is a real R&B swamp-rock stomper. Another live favourite.
'The Goldern Vanity' is an old sea-shanty based on Roud 122 and Child 286. Sam’s version is once again a lively upbeat take. Ciaran’s fiddle adds some great fills while Lukas' always impeccable double bass playing adds to the sublime mix. The moral of the story is ....if you are cabin boy don't trust a Captain who promises to let you marry his daughter....otherwise you might meet a very watery end.
Co-written by Sam and Jamie, we love this very tender and reflective love song 'Eyes Of Men'. Some beautiful melancholy cello lines from Graham.
The title track from Sam's second EP, 'Spokes' is another perfect choice to include. It is Sam's own composition, his thoughts on being so preoccupied with getting through the days that we often overlook the good things and people around us. This track receieved a lot of attention on it's release, including airplay on Mark Radcliffe’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Show.
A very often covered song is the 'Wayfaring Stranger'. Sam's almost folk-rock version could sit proudly on a big Western movie soundtrack. It has a driving beat added to Jamie maestro banjo picking and Sam's strong vocal with harmonies added by Kitty. It's style reminds me a little of Bon Jovi on 'Young Guns' soundtrack.
Bringing down the mood and tempo is another sublime song 'Down By The Salley Gardens' again with Kitty providing beautiful and perfect duet harmonies. One of the albums highlights with a super arrangement of a classic folk song.
This excellent album ends with 'Dullahan' co-written by Sam and Jamie with lyrics inspired by Irish mythology. With it's dark themes and strong build it perfectly ends an outstanding debut from Sam and The Lost Boys....and KItty.