Album review: SAM KELLY & THE LOST BOYS – Pretty Peggy

SAM KELLY & THE LOST BOYS - Pretty Peggy

Navigator Records [Release date 06.10.17]

Sam Kelly & the Lost Boys have already picked up rave reviews from the likes of Mark Radcliffe and Mike Harding, plus awards, including winning BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards ‘Best Emerging Act’. All this and Sam Kelly is only 24!

The album is a mix of covers (including Bob Dylan’s ‘Crash On The Levee’) and that folk stalwart ‘Trad arr.’, where the latter traditional songs are given a new arrangement by Sam Kelly and Jamie Francis (who plays banjo and guitar).

The rest of the Lost Boys are no musical slouches with Graham Coe on cello and playing fire extinguisher(!), Toby Shaer (fiddles/flutes/whistles), Ciaran Algar (fiddle/guitar/bouzouki), Archie Churchill-Moss (melodeon) and Evan Carson (drums/bodhran).

There are a few notable guest spots with Cara Dillon adding her wistful singing to ‘Bonny Lass Of Fyvie’, a jaunty little tune and uilleann pipes player Michael McGoldrick guests on this son as well as ‘Shy Guy’s Serve’. Geoff Lakeman also plays some mean spoons on ‘Angeline The Baker’, a lively tune that reminded me of the much missed Bellowhead, less that bands extra brass section. In fact I am sure Sam Kelly & the Lost Boys would be great in a live setting.

‘The Close Shave’ is a marvellously told and played tale of gold miners in a New Zealand town being taken for a ride by a man in drag, who then passes on his idea to a victim. Needless to say drink played a major part in the wooing…

Another highlight is the traditional whaling shanty ‘Greenland Whale’, a good chance to highlight not only band members’ musicianship but also the chorus vocals that are an essential part of many folk songs.

The album’s sound is perfectly clear, allowing the listener to pick out each instrument in the mix. It gives a real live feel to the proceedings.

Sam Kelly & the Lost Boys, along with the Young ‘Uns, have produced one of the folk albums of the year. They breathe new life and vigour into traditional songs, as well as adding some of their own songs, to create a perfect mix of folk with a modern edge. ****1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie


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