CD Review – Skinny Lister “Forge and Flagon”
“You don’t need to have been a sailor to appreciate a good sea shanty,” states Dan, lead singer of UK alt folk five piece, Skinny Lister. And with one listen to their debut album, Forge and Flagon, I have to agree – the man is right.
Gentrified is one word that has been used to describe the band, who mix traditional folk with contemporary pop. These seemingly common musical aspects are then potently fused with a hint of rum to create the bands’ infectious and rambunctious sound, which kicks in from the word go on “Forge and Flagon.”
We’re introduced to a very British and very soothing lyrical croon on, “If The Gaff Don’t Let Us Down,” as the band pines for the motherland, England. But within 30 seconds, the beat hits and my feet start moving. They don’t stop until the closing moments on the final song, “Colours.”
Things move along with, “John Kanaka,” as the band chant a chorus you’d hear escaping from a pub at 3am in the morning. “Rollin’ Over,” follows, which is the bands first single from the album. The track glitters with brightness and hope, and it makes it really quite difficult to dislike Skinny Lister at this point.
Through out the album, the band sing songs of working class England, like the free spirited, “Trawlerman,” and the raucus, “Forty Pound Wedding,” which are filled with tradition, making it easy to picture the exhausted and jolly work men, arm-in-arm and beer glass swinging. But the softer moments on the album are the ones where Skinny Lister are at their strongest. Much like the track, “Kite Song,” and the title track, “Plough and Iron.”
The stand out track is in fact the last, “Colours,” which is an existential five minute story about falling in love on the English countryside. Or, perhaps even falling in love with the English countryside? Either way, the track builds up to a climax which is so emotive, you’ll have your bags packs just so you can cross the pond to do either.
While some songs are probably more suited for the pub setting, like “Polka” and “Wild As The Wind Blows,” there’s really not a moment on Forge and Flagon that I didn’t like. Take it from someone who is not a sailor- you can most definitely enjoy a good sea shanty and never have set foot on a boat.
Forge and Flagon is available on January 29, through Side One Dummy.