Heaving And Hauling And ShakingThe Net

Kimber’s Men

Wrecks on the Shore

Released: Autumn 2018

We have talked about Kimber’s Men before with their last CD. The reason being is they are friends of Shrewsbury and have, nationwide following notwithstanding, a large Shropshire fan base. Their new album "Wrecks on the Shore." floated over my desk so I thought I would have a listen and let you know how it fares.

The singing of Sea Shanties is working its way into the public psyche.  I am convinced members of the midnight choirs throughout the land will have had a go at singing some of them. However like all things that are worth doing, if done properly there are joys to be found.

Thanks to Kimber’s Men and their sensitive and understanding way they approach their singing and research, a beauty is being breathed into songs that for years were merely called out rhythmically so that sailors could pull, haul, pump or turn in unison. Words were lost above the flapping of canvas and the roar of the weather. Hence Shanties popularity amongst those late night crooners, they are fun and can be sung as bawdy and roughly as you like . That is not Kimber’s style. They are  creating life and bringing  a new understanding.

Wrecks on the Shore, is an album that captures the real value of the songs and that is where the fascination lies. Unafraid of contemporary sea-songs too, this album is a wonderful mixture of both contemporary and traditional. The two juxtapose well and make the album highly relevant in the world of sea songs.

Before I even looked at the Album I spent ages just looking at the wonderful illustration on the album cover. Helen Lord is an illustrator working in Yorkshire and her scary sea monster clawing into a ship mercilessly, is quite a creation. This would have been just the sort of thing that superstitious sailors will have feared throughout their working lives.

With new members and old favourites Kimber’s Men’s new album brings together the poetry, the art and the humour of these songwriters. Split almost 50/50 between contemporary and traditional tracks each one getting the Kimber’s classy attention.

Sadly we lost Joe Stead from the Folk world since Kimber’s last album; but it is nice to see he still appears on this album. He was such a presence in Kimber’s and it is nice to know we can still hear new work from his that we have not before. Steve Smith and Mike Beeke can be classed as the new comers and they have brought great voices and further musicality to the team. Mike Beeke’s Northumbrian pipes on “Here’s the tender coming,” is so sublime. A great song anyway and is certainly a highlight of the album.

Gareth Scott would be an asset to any group, with a voice wealthy with tone and soul. Sounding like a mixture between a Mississippi Delta Blues and Spiritual singing, Gareth’s voice is alive with quality and class. He has a head turning voice people just have to watch and hear him. “Soon may the Wellerman come,” is a fantastic example of what I claim.

But the first track “Bound Down Trinidad,” starts from somewhere deep in the ground as Jon Bromley’s rich deep voice grabs the listeners attention with the best bass voice in the British Folk scene he does captivate the listener and one finds one’s self held, no matter what you were doing you have to stop to hear this treasure of a sound.

Kimber’s are never afraid of a song, be it an old traditional number like “Roll Boys Roll,” and “Rosiana,” or  their own songs, such as the eponymous track, Neil Kimber’s “Wrecks on The Shore,” and classic song’s like Stan Roger’s, “ The Jeannie C.” This is  crucial, there are many shanty groups throughout the UK especially in coastal towns and although they are highly entertaining , beer and noise play a large part. That doesn’t matter, it’s brilliant fun, but Kimber’s are able to point out what beauty there is in these songs. They shine like jewels in a museum. The Folk Scene is after all, a living museum. It is where we find our history, social, economic and political. The feelings and fears of our forebears living a life harder than anyone of us would ever dream possible, are all there in the lyrics and a large amount of humour too, after all they needed to laugh at something to prevent madness!

Kimber’s have done it again. A well balanced, beautifully sang and majestically played. The work that Kimber’s are doing, maintaining and presenting these wonderful songs is as crucial as an Egyptologist digging up a Scarab, or a diver bringing up a treasure chest. It is an illumination, torch-like onto a life that we have now lost to technology and container shipping. But as this review has pointed out the contemporary songs on the album gives that  balance and it is equally important for fans of this genre to know new songs are still being written, more sophisticated maybe, but all of them have one thing in common. The sea. They ,me and probably you will always love the sea and these songs celebrate that fact.

I believe this a  great album, a great listen and the perfect Christmas Gift.

This is a Five Star Review

Owen J.Lewis




Sofia Lewis Sofia Lewis
For many years Sofia wrote here under her male name Owen J. Lewis. She is now mostly writing under her own name of Sofia Lewis. Sofia, who worked on independent radio for over ten years, lives in Shrewsbury and writes plays. She has over 15 titles published and her plays are performed all over the world. She is especially popular in America. Her poetry is also often noted and she writes reams of it most weeks. Since graduating in theatre in 1997 Sofia has been an Actor, Filmmaker, and a Secondary School Teacher. Reviewing theatre is something she thoroughly enjoys and she loves to see great theatre. As a musician Sofia is known throughout the UK she is a folk singer, and is often seen or heard around her native county singing and having fun. Sofia has contributed to loveshrewsbury.com for over a decade and enjoys sharing her views on theatre. Sofia has one daughter and grew up in Church Stretton.

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