Sam Lee & Friends have collected traditional songs from their travels and then turned them into vibrant and modern reworkings
ercury nominated singer Sam Lee has returned with his second album, The Fade In Time, a musical journey of exploration and gathering. Having travelled across the UK and further afield, collecting new versions of traditional songs, Lee and his band then reconstruct them as experimental pieces. Pulling in influences from Bollywood, classical music and the Far East, these songs are released from nostalgia and instead sound free and vibrant.
A number of tracks were taught to Lee by his mentor, the Scottish traveller and folk singer Stanley Robertson. These include the opening track Johnnie O’ The Brine, Lord Gregory and the last song Lee ever learnt from Robertson: The Moon Shone On My Bed Last Night. Each of these age old tunes has been given a twist through the influx of Lee’s musical influence, such as injecting elements of Tajikistani wedding music and flamenco guitars, to create something unique.
Elsewhere, Bonny Bunch Of Roses is a famous Napoleonic number, appropriately propelled forth by fife and drum. Blackbird is a tragic love song punctuated with crashing cymbals and pounding piano. Album closer The Moss House is one of the more simple tracks on the record, leaving enough room for Lee’s heartfelt vocals to shine.
With the appearance of cuckoos and girls named Molly, the hallmarks of traditional folk can still be found on The Fade In Time, but Lee and his band have transformed this music – and lifted it above pastiche – into something magical. There is so much to admire and enjoy here.
Verdict: Something for traditionalists and fans of modern folk alike.
Watch the moody, monochromatic video to Blackbird, taken from this album The Fade In Time out now, below…