Shrewsbury's Favourite Shanty Singers.

The Strength Of The Swell
Kimber’s Men

You may recall at the start of September I promised you a couple of gems or so from the Shrewsbury Folk Festival. Many of you may know I am a main stage compere there so get to meet the performers and chill out with them in the Green Room. Hark at me!

One of the great singing groups that fill The Bird In Hand on Coton Hill, and the marquees of the Festival, every time they play, are Kimber’s Men. Their amazing harmonies and strength  in the vocals coupled with their depth of knowledge marks them out as the best shanty singing group in the UK today.

Fisherman’s Friends from Cornwall got a lucky break and sing extremely well however pound for pound, were you to hold the two together it is my belief Kimber’s would come out on top. It is with that backdrop that I shall tell you about the new Kimber’s Men Album “The Strength The Swell.”

Kimber’s Men comprise Joe Stead, Dave Buckley, Gareth Scott, Neil Kimber and John Bromley. All of them would have the wherewithal to sing solo but together they make an explosive sound. Consequently this is an album with everything.

Naturally included in the album are the pure shanties but there is also a nice collection of forebitters. The difference being the forebitters were songs the matelots would relax with and the shanties were their work songs. So naturally a great rhythm is needed.

With the rich and contrasting mix of voices and John Bromley, who incidentally is the best bass singer in the British Folk Scene today, their sound instantly grabs you. There is no messing about,  no namby-pamby, thin and hopeless sounds, this is a positive album from the off. “Randy Dandy O,” gets the album under way and then , very much akin to a ocean crossing there are exciting ups and downs as the lads deliver  their superb performances.

Giving incredible value this double CD is a must for shanty singers, folk singers and music lovers. With a little bit of everything I could only imagine it would be a simple error if you were to miss it off your Christmas list.

Gareth Scott, who quite simply has the most amazing soul singer’s voice, sings the poignant American song, “God Moves On The Water,” Telling the tale of the shipping disaster when the White Star Line’s Titanic went down in 1912. Gareth’s sensitivity is second to none and it is renditions like this that gives the album depth and dimension.

Anyone who watches these  lads play their gigs will already be aware that Kimber’s Men are something more than a shanty group; They offer an incredible sound, integrity and knowledge of the subject. Again it is with this arsenel of experience and splendour that they skillfully create the diversity within the album.

The album generously gives the listener 25 songs of brilliance. Just as they do in each performance they leave you wanting more. Offering such a fine balance and contrast with their music, this record is important. Being right up there with the best and this critic would suggest, this album isn’t far off being the definitive album of the genre.  

Check it out..

Kimber’s Men, The Strength Of The Swell.
This is a five star review.


Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet.

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