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Spotlight On: Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys

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Quite simply put, Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys are one of the best up and coming folk acts in the UK right now, and critics agree.

Sam was allocated the Horizon Award at the Radio 2 Folk Awards back in 2016 for “pushing new boundaries”, and reviews of their second album have concurred that the band have “blazed a trail in the folk field”. They synthesize both traditional folk elements and the vibrant energy of rock music, switching out an electric guitar for a banjo.

Though Sam’s name is the first thing you see, he’s not the only remarkable part of the union. Jamie Francis is outstanding on the aforementioned banjo, which helps to add an edge to their folk sound. Toby Shaer plays an insurmountable number of instruments, which contributes variety and layers of complexity to their tracks. Graham Coe’s cello bestows a haunting lilt to many of the songs on the new album, notably the deliciously dark ‘The Shining Ship’. Ciaran Algar, Evan Carson and Archie Moss round out the group, each adding yet more skilful elements to the mix.

Their first album, The Lost Boys, hinted at the band’s potential, with great tracks like ‘Banish Misfortune’ and ‘Jolly Waggoners’ displaying their proficiency in traditional folk. But live versions of their songs show what more they had to offer, with tracks like 'Dullahan' and 'Little Sadie' bringing the house down with their fierce power. Fans waited with anticipation for their second offering, Pretty Peggy, and 10 months later they delivered in spades.

With the new album, it's seemingly impossible to pick a best track. The opening song ‘Greenland Whale’ is a crowd-pleasing foot stomper, ending in a storm of musical vigour and layered vocals. ‘The Bonny Lass of Fyvie’ is a duet featuring the delightful Cara Dillon, and the reveal of her perspective within the song makes for a fantastic narrative experience. ‘The Shining Ship’ is wonderfully melancholic, and the Eastern-inspired melody perfectly underscores the story of two lovers separated by death and their reunion.

Each entry in the album brings something new to the table, and the attention is now on what more the band can create during the coming years. Both albums are available on Spotify, and the band will be touring the UK once more during March.

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