VIDEO: The Fisherman's Friends triumph with LP that celebrates their union
REVIEW: One and All - The Fisherman's Friends
If I'd told my teenage self that I would one day be as bewitched by the sea-salty shanties, pop-fuelled ballads and sad laments sung by a bunch of middle-aged Cornishmen as I was by the Rolling Stones or Rod Stewart, I'd have called for a straitjacket.
Well, it's happened, and I'm not even the slightest bit ashamed. There's something so solid, warm and genuine about the noise these chaps make. A strong sense of camaraderie shouts from every uniquely charming choral harmony. Their star has always beamed brightest when they are standing side by side singing by the harbour in their home village of Port Isaac, on a theatre stage, or in the pub.
It's nigh on impossible to capture the magic of their live communion on record, but One and All, the group's second album for the mainstream Island label, offers the most faithful reflection to date of the true essence of this close-knit, home-loving gang of pals. It showcases a band of singers much more polished and at ease than the ones who delivered the eponymous LP three years ago that elevated them to top-ten status.
It arrives with a sad and heartfelt dedication to the memory of Trevor Grills, their lifelong friend and top tenor who tragically lost his life in February. The two songs he leads on the LP send shivers down my spine – a haunting rendition of The Last Leviathan, and the single Mary Anne, his first foray into upbeat territory. They provide the icing on the cake of a collection that takes the chaps' character-packed vocals and embellishes them with subtle folky musical accompaniment. I love them all; from Jeremy Brown's traditional opener Rattlin' Winches through Lefty's cheeky Yeller Girls; Peter Rowe's Mollymauk; a fine version of Show of Hands' Cousin Jack; Nelson's Blood led by the deep growl of bass man Jon Cleave; John Kanaka ; John McDonnell's easy Sitting By The River; Billy Hawkins and Jon's original composition Sweet Maid of Madeira; John Brown's Sail Away Ladies; Julian Brown's Paddy Lay Back; accordionist Jason Nicholas's vocal debut with Sally Brown and the ensemble The Ark for Broken Hearts. It makes a beautiful tribute.
One and All, and the first single Mary Anne, are released on Monday, August 26. These videos, made earlier this year, show the group - including Trevor - talking about their journey and the album.