Review Archive

‘Outward Bound’ - from Chris Ricketts

(May 25, 2012)

“Getting better all the time” – as a songwriter of some note once wrote – and that’s exactly what’s Outward Boundhappening to Chris Ricketts. His new album ‘Outward Bound’ builds on the success of his first, ‘Port of Escape’ to once more serve up a vibrant, contemporary take on English maritime-influenced traditional music – sea shanties to most folk.

This album does more than give traditional shanties a shake-up it pulls them up by their bootstraps to new levels with sparkling melodies and a range of instruments that doubtless some of the old shantymen would love to have at their disposal. And in the man’s own words: “... takes them as far away from the safety of port as possible.” So if you thought you knew sea shanties get an earful of this – it’s old and new combined and you’ll love it.

From the strident guitar breaks on the rousing ‘Bully In The Alley’ to the powerful percussion and pulsating banjo of ‘Cape Cod Girls’ you’re on the receiving end of shanties that rock (shanty-rock anyone?). There is of course far more to the repertoire than jumping and leaping songs. There’s the muscle and sway of songs such as ‘Rio Grande’, the deep seated, leaving-home sadness of ‘Rollicking Randy Dandy-O’ and the lusty double-meaning of the string-driven ‘Sally Brown’. Then just to show you the depth of his voice, Chris delivers a touching version of the soulful slave song ‘Shallow Brown’ complete with gorgeous guitar. As each shantyman had his own version of the old songs, on this trip Chris is happy to move the tunes along and modify the lyrics – a reflection of the true essence of the shanty.

Chris Hickett’s is ensuring the sea shanty retains its rightful position in the British seafaring tradition and at the same time he’s taking it places that old songs never thought to go. There’s an inherent desire to wander and explore in our maritime tradition and with this album Chris is heading off for distant shores. Jump aboard - enjoy the voyage.

'Outward Bound' is available from 12 July, 2012 on the Acoustic Fusion label - catalogue: # AF02. More details from: info@acoustic-fusion.co.uk

On ‘Outward Bound’ Chris (acoustic guitar, vocals) is once again joined by Garry Blakeley (strings, backing vocals) and multi-instrumentalist Steve Hampton (guitars, percussion, banjo, mandolin, backing vocals).

Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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