Skinny Lister – A Matter Of Life & Love: Album Review

The fifth album from Shanty Punksters Skinny Lister is a kaleidoscope of styles and influences given the the familiar treatment.

Release Date: 22nd October 2021

Label: Xtra Mile Recordings

Format: CD / digital / LP

Written over the past 18 months, the Skinnies fifth album, A Matter Of Life & Love is a twelve song collection of true stories and feelings that really matter to them. No change there to be honest. Their road trips must arm them with more stories and encounters than you can shake a stick at. The new songs act as a record of their life and times, adding more colour to their story.

Entirely written, produced, recorded and mixed by Skinny Lister themselves, it’s an album that picks on the familiar themes of camaraderie and companionship through thick and thin, to cherishing the simple things that the return to freedom brings: life, love, family, music, drinking, singing, touring and good-times. Bringing together all their musical influences and styles, you can expect to come face to face with Madness-style ska to straight-up rock; and from folk-punk to traditional shanty. In other words, to quote their own famous label – shanty punk at its finest.

The influences come thick and fast. Damn The Amsterdam sounds more like the unaccompanied voices of The Young’uns but swelled by the voices of The Longest Johns; album opener Shout It Out is a rollicking anthem taken at a slower pace but with hints of the Celtic via The Pogues and Tough Stuff Like Us has some very Billy Bragg phrasing. That’s just on first hearing before the stye that’s evolved over a decade years starts to seep through.

Lorna channels a bit of sultry Debbie Harry in the New Wavey Like It’s The First Time. It’s a role that she revives later on in the sequence with one of her little album highlights that crop up. It’s a fun piece that skirts bubblegum pop while the band add another serving of that Ska style they seem to like on the title track. Did they get Suggs to guest on vocals? If not, Dan adds a vocal that’s not too far away at all suggesting there could be an alternative career in a Madness tribute act (with this track included). Oh, and add Bavaria Area to that setlist.

Shoulder To Shoulder is a clarion calling Skinny classic led by a marching drum, some more of those inspirational Celtic whistles and more likely than not some flags flying (if not a flagon of rum being passed around). Breakfast At Heathrow is set to another drinking song charge and along with History, they form a classic pairing to close the record. A song with the opportunity to do what Guy Garvey would call beating the benches with empty cups and have a good old full throated singalong.

The curtain falls with those sounds ringing as a reminder that since they first surfaced some ten or so years ago, Skinny Lister have been one of the hardest working bands on the circuit. Always on the road; a work ethic that’s built on taking their music to the people. It’s a tag that could be attached to several claimants even the PRS awarding them the ‘hardest working’ prize back in 2011 – the Skinnies can’t be far off pole position.

Here’s the title track:

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