Walking With Ghosts & The PetrelsWalking With Ghosts & The Petrels
Album: From Source To Sea
Label: ECC100
Tracks: 15

This disc is a repackaged reissue of arguably the most immediately folk-accessible of the four Lush Hand-made Music CDs issued in 2011. Like the companion issue Synaesthesia, this repackage comes as a double-disc vinyl edition, with inserted USB card-stick containing all 15 audio tracks and a video.

Walking With Ghosts is a collective name for Richard Evans, Simon Emmerson, Jackie Oates, Ben Murray, Ged Lynch and Andy Gangadeen; The Petrels are Jackie Oates and Belinda O'Hooley. The disc's title From Source To Sea cleverly cross-refers back to source recordings (both birdsong and source singers of sea-songs and shanties). In a kind of homage to the classic recordings released on the Topic label, it takes the form of a sequence of creative reworkings of traditional shanties and sea-songs, some of which ingeniously incorporate samples (many taken from that illustrious Topic catalogue) of past exponents of that folk sub-genre (Bert Lloyd, Ewan MacColl, Stan Kelly and even Harry H. Corbett). Even so, it's likely that many listeners will consider the gorgeous flowing arrangement of Essequibo River by The Petrels (Jackie & Belinda) to be the real pearl of the disc, although the episodic Sail Boat Malarkey turns out to be quite an epic too.

The melange of shanty and The Clash with its special-guests (Show Of hands and Carthys) incursion just has to be heard, as does Bert Lloyd's Bonny Ship The Diamond entwined with a dash of Egyptian Reggae and the sound of MacColl and Sam Larner struttin' their bell-bottomed stuff to a funky brassy beat on Mr Stormalong! The closing Cap'n-Pugwash-fixated medley brings high-spirited fun, while the swaying slow-skank of Away Haul Away might well invite comparison with Bellowhead.

The disc's way of presenting modern reinterpretations of shanties, by claiming them as such, can be seen to be perfectly valid. And the bird sounds on this disc are relevant too: typically excellently recorded and edited (by Mark Constantine's company The Sound Approach), and they prove intensely evocative, better than demonstration standard and I'm sure will be of interest to ornithologists too.

David Kidman

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