Review by Richard Catton for Summer 2018 edition of EDS (The EFDSS magazine).
This is what folk is all about - a group of women with a shared passion for singing and songs, getting together to make music with their voices and have some fun.
The delightfully named Futtock Shrouds is the first full-length release from the 12-strong She Shanties who, in their own words "got together in Whitby in 2011 for a bit of a sing but realised we had something special".
The girls have done their research and hauled up a nice selection of shanties and work songs from both sides of the Atlantic, each delivered by a rotating roster of lead vocalists while the others add harmony.
By its own admission the group doesn't get together too often to rehearse and the delivery is by no means tight. But these are great songs (the tale of a drunken sailor decapitated by hungry shark made me laugh out loud) and I suggest that if you're organising a singaround by the sea this summer you should reserve a dozen seats for these grog-swigging gals.
Review by David Kidman for "Living Tradition"
A female shanty crew? Yea, verily! … Though She Shanties are a bit different – 12 women who came together almost by accident at Whitby in 2011, quickly discovered the vital spark of kinship and that they sounded good together (and almost instinctively so). Since then, they’ve evolved into a veritable folk-family and graced numerous festival stages, releasing a toes-in-the-water EP in 2015 to enthusiastic reviews (including mine in this mag!). This follow-up fuller-length offering shows how accomplished the ensemble has become, a punchy, full-on chorale of glorious parts, harmonies and unison that’s thoroughly infectious – arranged, yes (to a certain extent), but never ‘polite’.
She Shanties include in their ample ranks no fewer than three sets of sisters, while some members’ names (Cath Tyler, Rachel Hamer, Ruth & Sadie Price) you’ll definitely have come across in other folk contexts. All are singers of individual character, and the shantyman’s duty is invariably shared out equitably, receiving lusty and charismatic crew support. (Crew members are named on the package, but it would’ve been good to have identified individual track leaders too.) Naturally, the disc’s title is suitably racy (like the Spanker Boom EP – no giggling at the back there!), and She Shanties again seem to have struck that enviable balance between committed and respectful performance and having a whale of a time (i.e. massive fun) while completely engaging their listeners. The 12 tracks on this CD cover the gamut of favourite shanties and songs of the sea, all sung out with abundant gusto and brio. What’s not to like?
Review by Christopher C Leslie for "Bright Young Folk"
She Shanties’ first full length album is a carefully curated sea shanty collection. Keeping production at a minimum, the She Shanties sing without accompaniment in the traditional call and response format.
To say that the She Shanties stand out as an all female shanty group is to state the obvious, but their northern accents also stand out in a genre dominated by a certain Cornish shanty group. Comparison with Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends is inevitable; the She Shanties, singing accompanied, have an unembellished and clean sound. Their less dramatic approach lets the lyrics stand center stage and their subjects feel accessible. The songs are nurtured and emotionally loaded.
Not that this should suggest that the Sea Shanties sing without imagination. One More Day is performed and stylized with enough theatrics to make it interesting without becoming too much. Songs such as One More Day and Hog-Eye Man maintain that industourous work song rhythm at the core of so many sea shanties. If those are the work hard songs, Whisky Johnny and Wait for the Day, namely payday, are the play hard songs.
Tracks such as Shenandoah, Sugar in the Hold, and Bully in the Alley, are descriptive of a sailor’s life and dreams. Finally there are a few jokers, The Light from the Lighthouse, has an obvious nautical theme, but musically and thematically - being lost and guided home by the light - it has the distinct characteristics of its gospel source material. Conversely, Noah’s Ark has no gospel message and instead provides the origin story of the dog’s wet nose.
She Shanties deserve some special recognition for their sleeve notes which are informative while perfectly efficient. In this sense the sleeve notes exemplify Futtock Shrouds: pleasant, without pretense and true to the source material.
Excerpt from a review by Tony Birch on the fatea Magazine website.
The She Shanties … A no-nonsense group, they introduce themselves in a wonderfully direct style, 'We're women, We sing shanties' and they do it very well indeed. There are twelve in the line-up and they're each a good singer in their own right. … the result is an album of real quality where every voice can be separately heard and the lyrics are crystal clear.
Futtock Shrouds is their first full album … wonderful … fast paced tunes … balanced out by some more considered songs.
This is an album that everyone who enjoys well presented traditional music should get hold of and it deserves to be widely heard. It's now released and available through the website but if you get the chance buy it at a show or festival after seeing The She Shanties.
Read the full review on the fatea web site.
Buy the ‘Futtock Shrouds’ CD on-line
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