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The Salts The Salts
Album: Brave
Label: Braccan
Tracks: 10

Brave is the second album from The Salts, a band performing their own contemporary take on material from the trusty maritime repertoire alongside a small number of their own original songs. All five band members can be described as seasoned musicians, with experience playing in support of some big-name acts - interestingly, they include in their ranks Lee Collinson, once known primarily as a guitar virtuoso touring with Keith Hancock and Clive Gregson, and who here demonstrates considerable prowess on the five-string banjo. Other members are Brian Doran (mandolin, whistle), Jeremy Hart (vocals, acoustic guitar), Richard nash (vocals, drums) and Tim Cantrell (double bass), The band's debut album She Rises reportedly received rave reviews and many radio plays, and if its followup is anything to go by it's easy to see why, for theirs is a companionable, accessible and radio-friendly sound. Their approach to rocking up the old shanties and sea songs isn't full-on-party like Bellowhead, even though they still shake them up with a rocky beat and get your feet tapping.

Compare and contrast the two bands on Haul Away For Rosie, and maybe there won't seem much of a difference in terms of shouty enthusiasm and forward energy, but in general The Salts present a more considered pop-inflected folk-rock treatment that sometimes stands up better outside of the mosh-pit. Having said that, sometimes the arrangements may feel just a bit "obvious" despite their freshness of execution. (There's nothing new under the sun, after all…) Their take on 10,000 Miles sounds like a polite version of The Pogues, and you can see the Latin rumba break in Running Down To Cuba coming at a distance of some leagues, whereas Drunken Sailor and Dead Horse almost redeem things with their bravery.

It's swings and roundabouts too with the two original songs - the string section on the reflective title song seems fish-out-of-water, and Fifteen Men seems a touch too shanty-by-numbers to really convince. But overall I like the band's spirited attitude, and there's clearly a niche for their take on the maritime repertoire, more especially I suspect when they get round to tackling less well-trodden material within that genre. But for the meantime, there's nowt wrong with good-time maritime à-la-Salts!

David Kidman