Skinny Lister – Shanty Punk: Album Review

Keeping the wreck rollin’ – Skinny Lister gets shanty drunk on Shanty Punk.

Release Date: 20th October 2023

Label: Xtra Mile Recordings

Format: digital / CD / vinyl

Once more unto the breach go Skinny Lister. Shanty Punk is their concept album – and the concept is…Skinny Lister. “A pure distillation of what makes Skinny Lister tick, and perhaps a collection of songs that leans further into our folky routes than we’ve ventured in some years,” they say. That’s all good and grand by us, after following the Skinnies ever since Forge & Flagon appeared back in 2012.

In the finest tradition of those very songs that launched them with Forge & Flagon, Shanty Punk kicks in with the rollicking Haul & Bale and sets the tone for a set that’s choc full of beating from the chest, hearty singalongs with much swinging of the pants and swigging from a flagon of rum. Indde, Forge On George celebrates the latter – encouraging “drink the flagon dry” – Mr Thomas senior, also the subject of George’s Glass, is presumably celebrated; as good an excuse as any to raise a glass.

Heading back to their roots, Shanty Punk is heaving with plenty of evidence to support why the Skinnies have been marked as the young upstarts in the Pogues’ family. The sense of the exuberant Skinny Lister onstage experience comes across stronger than ever. In Company Of The Bar, the ‘in the room’ feel, the one where you; ‘re down at/on the barrier (celebrated in the song of the same name) with the off-mic shouts and yelps.

Lorna provides the moment of brief respite with a sweet Mantra. A hint of labelmates Frank Turner and Beans On Toast on this one. Typical Frank/Beans lines such as “I’ve got a life/song and I’m gonna live/sing it” amongst several other telling observations, provide the mantra of the title along with Eckhart Tolle’s ‘the power of now’ philosophy. Perhpas the philosophy is distilled in the songs of life on the road life with Skinny Lister. An enviable ‘hardest working band in the business’ work ethic that clearly inform and inspire Arm Wrestling In Dresden and the Ska-ified verses of Pittsburgh Punch Up (misheard on first hearing and now the earworm of Pi**ed Up Punch Up). Broken, Bruised And Battered may well be the same. Already we know about Dan’s Trouble On Oxford Street although there might be a few wider implications for the former; no names mentioned but a musical musing on the general state of the nation.

There’s an unfamiliar voice on William Harker, where a simple Google reveals that away back in the pre-Forge & Flagon days, from the Homemade Tour EP back in 2010, before even our time, but it fits perfectly. It’s one where the EP has the original tune by George Thomas, performed by the man himself with backing by Skinny Lister, recorded in Frolesworth in Max and Lorna’s folks front room on Saturday 23rd October, 2010. Brought right up to date in 2023, it rounds off the concept rather nicely. The gaff hasn’t let them down. The good times and the rum are flowing in abundance again.

There’s no option but to showcase Shanty Punk than with Down At The Barrier:

Skinny Lister online: Website / Facebook / X (Twitter) / Instagram / Youtube

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