CIARAN ALGAR – The Final Waltz (Fellside FECD270)

CIARAN ALGAR The Final WaltzThe Final Waltz is Ciaran Algar’s debut solo album – something to do in his gap year, allegedly – and it’s sort of what you’d expect but, then again, not really. We know Ciaran as a particularly fine multi-instrumentalist and he has added to his band another in shape of Toby Shaer with Eden Longson on drums, Giles Deacon on keyboards and Sam Kelly, who shares the vocal duties with Kitty Macfarlane. There are four songs in the set, three of them written by Ciaran but he sings only one. Quite why he decided this I can’t tell –he has a very characterful voice, albeit not as polished as Sam’s, but well suited to the material.

The songs give Ciaran a chance to stretch his arranging talents – and those of his band – away from the traditional tunes for which he is better known. All the subtlety of which he is capable comes out in ‘The Final Waltz’ and the downbeat sentiment of ‘Our Home Now’ but then we are immediately whisked away into the gaiety of a set like ‘The Luck Penny’ before ‘Until We Meet Again’ takes the mood down again.

Having set an emotional pattern on the album, Ciaran reverses it with a relatively upbeat song, ‘Locks’, followed by the desolate beauty of ‘The Wild Geese’. I like everything on this album and I’ve spent time thinking about how I would sequence it to balance the highs and lows – and of course, I couldn’t do any better. You just have to climb aboard and go with it.

Dai Jeffries

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Artist’s website: www.ciaranalgar.co.uk

‘Our Home Now’:

SAM KELLY The Lost Boys

SAM KELLY The Lost BoysThis is the album that the folk world has been awaiting for months, given Sam Kelly’s unique musical history and his seemingly putting his solo career on hold to work with The Changing Room.

The Lost Boys are an expanded Sam Kelly Trio with Ciaran Algar and Graham Coe joining Jamie Francis and Evan Carson and further contributions from fellow Stark Josh Franklin, who also co-produced the album, plus Lukas Drinkwater and Kitty Macfarlane.

The album opens with ‘Jolly Waggoners’, one of the chorus songs we used to roar out in the sixties. Sam takes a more considered approach to it, tweaking the tune a little here and there and revealing that the words are still relevant – “the folks in power pay no heed to the likes of me and you”.

Jamie Francis’ alt-blues affiliations come to the fore in the arrangements of ‘Little Sadie’, ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ and ‘The King’s Shilling’, which is traditional but makes you think it isn’t. His banjo is the dominant instrument on several tracks and, with Carson’s drums going flat out the final track, ‘Dullahan’, is pure folk-rock. At the other end of the spectrum ‘Down By The Salley Gardens’ enjoys a quite conventional pastoral arrangement. Kelly and Francis share the writing and arranging, with Francis contributing ‘Six Miners’ (despite the cover credit I don’t believe he wrote ‘Banish Misfortune’) and Kelly writing ‘Spokes’ while they share the credit for ‘Eyes Of Men’ and ‘Dullahan’.

This is a really good album from start to finish, well programmed with its first peak at ‘Little Sadie’, a “false” climax at ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ and a big finish at the very end. The arrangements are inventive without detracting from the essence of the songs. Their setting of ‘The Golden Vanity’ seems much too jaunty at first but just like everything else here it works. The Lost Boys is going to be huge.

Dai Jeffries

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Artist’s website: www.samkelly.org

Sam and Jamie perform ‘Eyes Of Men’ – Songs From The Shed:

Sam Kelly introduces The Lost Boys

Sam Kelly introduces The Lost Boys

The widely anticipated debut full-length album, The Lost Boys, from folk singer and multi-instrumentalist Sam Kelly is due for release on 19th November 2015. The album promises to take the listener to all corners of the British Isles, across the Atlantic, and back again on a musical journey led by Sam’s expert vocals, tasteful arrangements, and high-class instrumental performances. Tender, heart-breaking ballads rub shoulders with dynamic, riff-based folk rock in an exciting mix of traditional and original material.

Touring as The Sam Kelly Trio for the past three years Sam is omnipresent amongst the folk music scene. The trio includes Jamie Francis on banjo and Evan Carson on percussion. Two new band members, Ciaran Algar on fiddle and Graham Coe on cello join the fold to create a full, authentic roots vibe for the album.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with the amazing folk scene we have in this country for the past three years. Huge festival bands, young musicians like myself, and people singing floor spots in tiny folk clubs have all inspired me in equal measure, and this album is a musical montage of all my favourite memories and experiences so far,” explains Sam.

Sam has also honed his skills as a producer under the watchful eyes of Sam and Sean Lakeman, and this album is produced and recorded by himself, Joshua Franklin, and Jamie Francis. It also also features the mixing and mastering talents of Stu Hanna (Megson), and guest musicians Lukas Drinkwater and Kitty Macfarlane.

The Lost Boys has been widely anticipated by both his peers and a dedicated fan base and is the culmination of what has been an incredibly successful year for Sam. Nominated Best Singer 2015 Spiral Earth Awards, numerous plays on Radio 2 and 3 including a live session and interview on the Mark Radcliffe show, features in R2, fRoots, Living Tradition and Fatea magazines, and much more. It’s easy to see why he has already been tipped for greatness by the likes of Mike Harding and Cara Dillon.

Billed as Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys, the five piece will be taking the album on tour in 2016 and cementing Sam’s place as one of the most exciting young prospects on the British folk scene.

Artist’s website: www.samkelly.org

‘Jolly Waggoners/Banish Misfortune’ – Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys:

Jon Cleave and The Oggymen moonlight as Cornish wreckers in new single

WreckersThe Changing Room will release a new single `Wreckers‘  on 5th January. The first single from the band’s eagerly anticipated debut album, the song features Fisherman’s Friends front man Jon Cleave and Falmouth-based performers The Oggymen.

Jon Cleave’s dark and atmospheric lead vocal lends a theatrical quality to this musical tale about the sinister underbelly of old Cornwall. The Port Isaac-based mustachioed author has been performing with shanty group Fishermen’s Friends for over fifteen years, and has performed at the Royal Albert Hall and the BBC Folk Awards.

The Changing Room band member Sam Kelly said: “Jon Cleave’s vocal on ‘Wreckers’ can only be described as epic.”

The Oggymen, a twelve-strong a capella singing group has gone from strength to strength over the past year, having performed to capacity crowds at the Hall for Cornwall and Minack Theatre in recent months.

“We invited The Oggymen to appear on ‘Wreckers’. They were so good that they ended up on four of our album tracks” laughs songwriter Tanya Brittain.

“As a taster for the new album ‘Wreckers’ certainly does the business”, writes folking.com’s Dai Jeffries. “The timeless pastoral feel of A River Runs Between is replaced by a the darkness of Jon Cleave’s growling lead vocal and the slightly ghostly echoing chorus of The Oggymen. Sam Kelly’s voice provides a hint of light in the dark – isn’t that how wreckers worked? Once again we’re left on tenterhooks with just one new track and there are still three or four months to wait for the album.”

The Changing Room’s forthcoming album, Behind The Lace, due for release in spring, promises more fabulously evocative original songs inspired by other Cornish preoccupations such as sharks, pilchards, real ale, dancing and rowing. Tanya and Sam are Joined on the album by Jamie Francis, Evan Carson, John McCusker, and Kevin McGuire.

‘Wreckers’ is now available to pre-order on iTunes. For more information about the band and their music visit: thechangingroommusic.com

THE CHANGING ROOM – A River Runs Between (The Changing Room Music TCRM75006)

Changing RoomThere can’t be many songs written about the Cornish pilchard industry but the third and final track on The Changing Room’s debut CD, ‘Row Boys Row’, is one such.

At the core of the band are Tanya Brittain, who wrote all the songs on their debut, and Sam Kelly. They started working together on a funded project and it feels like a little musical magic happened. The EP is produced by Boo Hewerdine and guests include Jennifer Crook and the Polperro Fishermen’s Choir but little of that actually matters. This record just isn’t long enough and I’m relieved to read that a full length album is on the way.

The title track presumably refers to the Tamar although I was unaware of such tension between Devonport and Torpoint – or perhaps it’s just the bridge that caused the problem . It’s a song that should have Steve Knightley and 3 Daft Monkeys wondering why they hadn’t written it while ‘Deep Beneath The Sea’ is a warning against dissing a mermaid should you encounter one in Cornish waters. ‘Row Boys Row’ is, as I’ve said, a tale of the lives of Cornish fishermen. It could have been written at any time in the last fifty years and I suppose that one could be critical and say that it paints a rather rosy picture of life between the English Channel and the Celtic Sea but it sounds and feels so good that it would be churlish to do so. Bring on the album.

Dai Jeffries

Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront 


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Artist’s website: www.thechangingroommusic.com