Chris Ricketts has found a niche that appears to have been overlooked by many other youngsters from the Newcastle Folk & Traditional course namely that pivotal role of the much maligned ‘Shantyman’. Until the recent commercially accepted exposure of Port Isaac’s Fishermen’s Friends these predominantly chorus integrated songs may have sounded at best ‘obscure’ and, at times down right ‘old fashioned’. Personally I can’t see that happening so long as we have the youthful exuberance of artists the calibre of Ricketts and his partners in crime (multi-instrumentalist Steve Hampton and fiddler Garry Blakeley) to…as it were, push the boat out. Between them the trio make (as You Slosh used to say) a glorious racket combining their requisite skills in various genres from full-on folk-rock to encompassing Reggae and Blues. The band not only plagiarise genres but aren’t averse to recreating bygone era sounds of established artists including Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span. Take for instance “Rio Grande” where the mandolin introduction sounds as if it could have been lifted straight from a performance by Peter Knight and “John Kanaka” where “Feelin’ Groovy” really bridges the gap. Now, ‘dated’ isn’t a word I would choose to use because how can you ‘date’ something that never goes out of fashion. Ricketts and his crew prove this time and again and if you can’t get something out of each of these tracks then could I suggest you must have spent too much time in the brig. All of the tracks are well established favourites including “Bully In The Alley”, “Sally Brown” and “Drunken Sailor” but given a good dusting and kicking could provide the effervescent youth of today with that essential ‘festival’ spirit. If you’re looking to rekindle your youth or indeed in need of a pick-me-up then look no further.
Artist’s website: http://www.rickettsmusic.com/