A few weeks ago everyone (including pasties + cream here) got all frothed up about the quirky story in which ten low-key Cornish fishermen from Port Isaac hit the big time with a million-pound Universal Music deal. Now the first reviews of the album are rolling in. So, how did the boys measure up?
Well, the Guardian review gives ‘Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends’ three stars, declaring it ‘the folk curiosity album of the year’ and describing the tracks as ‘gutsy work songs, mostly sung full-tilt’, but also ‘a bit plodding and respectful’.
The Indie meanwhile found it a ‘fulsome blend of baritones and tenors’, which ‘brings their repertoire of far-flung seafaring ballads to burly life’.
I agree with a lot of that (phew – I was feeling all protective). This is a hugely rousing and compulsive album – and the nice mix of classics and lesser-known ballads and shanties makes it surprisingly diverse in style.
I couldn’t help but wish it had been ever so slightly more rowdy and raw, and that it had contained more acapella numbers. But, then, a slick album for Universal probably isn’t the right platform for Cornish ale-induced boisterousness in any case!
I’ve been playing it on repeat since last week but, being Cornish and weaned on a diet of Going Up Camborne Hill and South Australia, I fear I can’t accurately gauge the wider appeal of this album, which was recorded (before the Universal deal was struck) in 15th-century St Kew Church near Wadebridge.
The Friends are playing pretty much every festival on the circuit this summer (including Glasto), the The Mail on Sunday profiled them yesterday, and I keep hearing their ‘Haul Away, Joe’ track on a TV ad, so it would certainly seem that the appetite for Cornish shanty-singing across the Tamar is greater than anyone could have predicted.
At the very least, I think I am safe in saying that this is the biggest Cornish music release for some time, right?
*If you only download three tracks, make them: addictively syncopated Haul Away Joe, Brightly Beams and goosebumpy No Hopers, Jokers & Rogues (you can listen to it here).
Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends is out 26 April, priced £8.99; buy it here.
Check here for forthcoming Cornish dates – they are pleasingly frequent!
Great video footage herewith: