Danny Spooner - Bold Reilly Gone Away
Anglo-Australian folk singing legend Danny Spooner's latest album, Bold Reilly Gone Away, was released in late 2009/2010 and is a collection of sea shanties. Perhaps one should say, rather, "the definitive collection of sea shanties" - if ever there can be such a thing, then this surely is it.
Spooner's remarkable, powerful voice and story-telling-through-song prowess hardly need remarking upon here. (Just check out any previous review of this outstanding artist's work, if you need to.) Suffice to say that Spooner brings an authenticity to everything he sings that is rare and hard to find, and these shanties are no exception. Danny Spooner convinces entirely as the old salt, and his backing group The Whalers, who lend superb support in the choruses, likewise have you believe they're a bunch of old sea dogs.
Sea shanties were working songs and flourished as such for roughly half a century when the tall ships reigned supreme before the onset of the age of the steam ships. On Bold Reilly Gone Away, Danny Spooner presents a superb selection of every type of shanty from the anglophone world, as well as three outstanding French examples of the genre. It is a more than worthy memorial to those poor "tough old sods", to quote Spooner, that sang these songs to help in their today almost unthinkably hard toils that propelled the sailing vessels around the world. Spare a thought for a minute, if you will, for the countless digits and limbs lost in these tough toils in the pursuit of the ship owners' profits, and the many lives of these tough sailors lost or ruined, and suddenly shanties don't seem all that jolly anymore, do they?
Bold Reilly Gone Away is, as indeed you would expect from Spooner, not marred by the slightest hint of "arrangements" - where harmonies occur, these are more or less accidental. When it comes to authentic performance of sea shanties, forget the recent - though valiant - efforts by the Fisherman's Friends from Port Isaac; sadly these sound more like a finely honed choir (the added instrumentation doesn't help either, nor indeed are all the songs actual sea shanties). If that is your thing, fine, but for the genuine article look no further than Bold Reilly Gone Away.
A thoroughly consistent and utterly compelling, enchanting album, Danny Spooner's Bold Reilly Gone Away is bound to leave a lasting impression on the listener. Every single track is a rare gem and worth the price of admission alone. As such, it is utterly futile to try and pick any particular favourite or favourites.
The excellent sleeve notes include not only the lyrics of the shanties, but also notes on sea shanties and their different types.
Danny Spooner's Bold Reilly Gone Away is way past essential in any good collection of sea shanties as well as of general folk music.
(This album should also be available as MP3s shortly.)
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