Album Review: Skinny Lister – Down on Deptford Broadway

By on Monday, 20th April 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Down on Deptford Broadway coverWhen we at TGTF caught up with folk-punk collective Skinny Lister last month at SXSW 2015, they were enthusiastically awaiting the release of their new album ‘Down on Deptford Broadway’ on Xtra Mile Recordings. Aside from being excited to play the new songs for new audiences, the band members were excited to be part of the emerging alt-folk ‘scene’ being curated by the record label. With the new LP release, Skinny Lister have established a firm position in the milieu beside their famous labelmate Frank Turner.

‘Down on Deptford Broadway’ opens with the immediately catchy couplet rhymes of sea shanty ‘Raise a Wreck’. Informed by both rock and traditional folk influences, the raucous pub-style sing-along has a climactic key change around two-thirds of the way through that sets a high-energy mood for the album. ‘Trouble on Oxford Street’ continues the uptempo tone with a melodic “ba da ba ba ba da da” refrain and clever lyrical lines that seem particularly appropriate heading into the upcoming summer festival season: “please excuse the bruise, it’s drink got me into this, I didn’t know where I was”.

Co-lead vocalist and self-described ‘show-off’ Lorna Thomas chimes in with her multi-instrumentalist brother Max on ‘George’s Glass’, written as an ode to the Thomas siblings’ father, an amateur songwriter known informally as ‘Party George’. The folk aspect of this song is realized in its lively dance tempo, specifically a polka if I’m not mistaken, and its rousing chorus “follow your fearless heart / walk on down your own path / tomorrow in focus at last / the world through the bottom of George’s glass”.

Lorna Thomas displays a more poetic vocal style in ‘What Can I Say’, an introspective country-tinged track about longing for a lost love. As you can hear in its accompanying video just below, the song’s naturalistic lyrics allude to the lonely passage of time by chronicling the change of seasons from “a summer spent without you is a summer put to waste” to “leaves they went brown, down they all did fall”. Thomas’ lilting vocals feature again later in the album on the lovely pure folk ballad ‘Bonny Away’ and gently rocking album closer ‘The Dreich’.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zBweuQkAkA[/youtube]

Previously featured track ‘Cathy’ lifts the tempo between ‘What Can I Say’ and the teetering waltz ‘Six Whiskies’. Another dance-tune-turned-pub-chorus, ‘Six Whiskies’ namechecks a handful of London landmarks visited on a drunken sojourn, including the Deptford Broadway lyric that gives the album its name. The uproarious anthem ‘This Is War’ might sound equally at home on the ‘Les Miserables’ soundtrack as in the pub, especially with its broad choral harmonies and accordion-laced instrumentation. ‘Ten Thousand Voices’ has a similarly populist theme along with a driving rhythm and an irresistible chorus that begs for audience participation in live performance.

Indeed, live performance is where Skinny Lister truly excel, and while the recorded versions on ‘Down on Deptford Broadway’ are enjoyable, they can’t quite match the unbridled energy and enthusiasm of the band on stage and in person. If you happen to be on the UK side of the pond, you can have the best of both worlds this week, as Skinny Lister embark on a UK tour in support of the album release.

7.5/10

Skinny Lister’s second album ‘Down on Deptford Broadway’ is out today on Xtra Mile Recordings. Our previous coverage of Skinny Lister, including an interview and live reviews from SXSW 2015, is right this way.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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