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This is a mighty album on which Sam joins forces with six band members (and the occasional guest) to create forceful, driven versions of both traditional and original songs. This is not, however, a case of deciding how to engage all seven of the Lost Boys on every track, but rather where best and on what instruments to deploy them, resulting in a varied but cohesive sound that is intelligently, imaginatively and creatively adapted to each track.

Between them the band members command an impressive array of instruments – bouzoukis, guitars, mandolin, cello, keyboards, cittern, pipes, percussion - though the sound is largely built around Jamie Francis’s banjo (and electric guitar on four tracks), Archie Churchill-Moss’s ramping melodeon and the sublime fiddle of Ciaran Algar (present on all but two tracks). Guests include Michael McGoldrick, adding beautifully placed uilleann pipes on two tracks, Geoff Lakeman (vocals and spoons), Damien O’Kane and Cara Dillon, who steals the show with a perfect cameo on the title track.

While many of the traditional songs are familiar fare, they all benefit from a fresh approach that adds to our appreciation: some are retitled and you may find yourself trying to think of the ‘common name’ for The Keeper, Lass O’ Fyvie, The Shining Ship etc. There is a danger that through their combination of familiarity and unfamiliarity they could overshadow the album’s original songs and, I must confess, on first hearing that is what happened to me. However, I made a point of going back and listening again – to Sam’s poetic translation of a Belgian song that closes the CD, to Jamie’s evocative When The Reivers Call, but most of all to Sam’s Chasing Shadows, a genuinely great song with insightful lyrics and an upbeat tune that shouldn’t work together but do – absolutely.

n fact, “Wow that REALLY works” would make a perfect thumbnail review for this entire album. And so it is.

Nigel Schofield

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This album was reviewed in Issue 121 of The Living Tradition magazine.