'Good band The Salts. Great folk rock'
Phil Beer - Show of Hands
'Incredibly gutsy stuff with a big sound.'
Mike Harding - The Mike Harding Folk Show
The opening track, ‘Bulgine Run’, is as good as an opening track as you are likely to hear on any album of any genre. A Capstan shanty and favourite of the yankee packets, it has great vocals and instrumentals and as a sort of rock shanty, it gets the feet tapping straightaway: I prefer this to the Bellowhead version, ‘Let Her Run’.
The title track ‘Brave’, has haunting lead and backing vocals and reminds me of Lindisfarne harmonies. I particularly like the version of the ‘Drunken Sailor’, which starts atmospherically, before turning almost into a fast reel; a great treatment. ‘Dead Horse’ has a strong tub-thumping brat, which will get an audience clapping along, whilst the banjo of Lee Collinson, a twice finalist of BBC’s Young Folk musician awards, is evident to good effect on the standard ‘Johnny Come Down To Hilo’.
The drums keep each track rocking along and this is especially true of the closing track, 10,000 Miles. Not my favourite, but one for the gigs I suspect. The very accomplished banjo and guitar, and superbly arranged vocal harmonies give this shanty album a feel like it was meant for the stage, and I suspect their gigs we be very well received.
Although unfair to make comparisons, they sound like a bellow head reduction. More subtle, but just like a jus is reduced, they bring forward the essence of the key ingredients. This is a well-balanced group and these guys have pedigree; I hope they come to Oxfordshire soon.
Colin Whittle - Shire Folk
' I cannot recommend this album strongly enough. I’ve been lucky enough to have seen these guys play many times, and was an admirer of their first album She Rises. This new record does exactly what it needs to do for the band – it steps them up again both musically and in the quality of the production – plus it crucially captures the raw power and enthusiasm that make The Salts so endearing.’
Artree - Folk And Roots Magazine
’ Shanties from the days of sail are highly in the ascendant, and among the many heart-warming ticks-in-the-box must be the boundless enthusiasm and painstaking maritime research that is coursing through The Salts’ repertoire.
Folk Wales Online Magazine
“The Salts sound like a fun live band, with a very different approach to ‘authentic’ sea shanty singers, and Brave would form a fine souvenir of one of their gigs.”
'The title track (Brave) demonstrates everything about why The Salts have had so much success thus far, with excellent backing vocals and a tremendous melody'
"This is the second album from The Salts and it is quite simply outstanding. Modern revved up sea related folk songs and shanties.
I love the first album 'She rises' but this is a huge step up in quality all round."
Amazon Digital releases 5 star review
The Salts perform shanties but not quite in the way you might expect. They are five seasoned musicians with a remarkable list of credits to their names from Pete Best via Thunderclap Newman to Ben E King. Now based in the leafy suburbs of Surrey and Berkshire, Brave is their second album. All five sing and harmonise naturally but that’s not how they perform – essentially they are an amplified acoustic band with a drummer but there is even more to them.
The first three tracks are arguably Caribbean in origin – the one I hadn’t heard before, ‘Running Down To Cuba’ certainly is – and The Salts give them a tropical feel. They don’t actually play reggae, or even a pastiche of reggae, but they give the songs a real lilt. Purists may not like it but they throw in a middle eight here and there and ‘Cuba’ has a distinctly Latin break as Lee Collinson’s banjo combines with Richard Nash’s percussion for a shanty you can dance to.
‘Drunken Sailor’ is the track I wasn’t looking forward to, it really is so hackneyed. The Salts find the darkness in it beginning with just the drums before Jeremy Hart’s guitar comes in and the instrumental break is as heavy as you could wish. It’s a real crowd-pleaser. They do the same with RL Stevenson’s ‘Fifteen Men’ which is a really nasty lyric detailing a number of gory deaths. Even here they employ a string quartet as they do on the title track, the only original song in the set, written by Jeremy.
They give a nod to the American origins of ‘Johnny Come Down To Hilo’ with the banjo on top and Brian Doran’s mandolin joining it. Of course, you can’t sing it the way it was collected these days and it can be argued that once you take a shanty out of its context it has lost its purpose anyway. The Salts’ approach is a valid as that of the massed choirs who sweeten shanties for mass consumption – actually, more so. Which brings us to the final track. ’10,000 Miles’ is a song of transportation on a “government ship”, with the twist that the man is left behind while his lover is transported – a little bit of hstory. Nowadays it’s the softer, more reflective version that is heard most often but The Salts use its capstan or forebitter rhythm to bring their album to a stomping conclusion.
I’m fairly local to The Salts and I’ll see them live soon but they will be performing at the Great British Folk Festival next month and you would be well advised to take a listen. You’ll probably buy this album from them.
Their songs are of a nautical nature, and Brave is the band’s second album, carrying on the penchant for rocking up sea shanties. Certainly their swashbuckling energy and fire-cracked enthusiasm makes a riveting addition to the folk scene.
Big size shanty choirs are common in Germany and America. Here, however, the shanty was more often sung as an addition to a repertoire, rather than a featured area of song, and bands playing shanties with the energy and attack of The Salts are few and far between.
The band’s energy and articulation is highly obvious when listening to Brave. Bulgine Run and Fire Marengo are two fiery up-tempo tracks; their infectious grooves, befitting work songs and pump shanties, are played with a commendable gallop, balancing earthiness, a solid groove and (on Bulgine Run) neat almost Beach Boys style harmonies.
The lead vocals are raw and unvarnished, but with highly polished backing harmonies. The group seems like it is really enjoying the process of revitalising this often forgotten aspect of folk music, and the performances are suitably impassioned and rousing.
Brave is a fine undaunted second album and should do The Salts’ cause the world of good.
‘Unafraid to blend, develop and move folk forward while still retaining an abiding and healthy respect for tradition. And sometimes along the way taking the tradition to places it never thought to go. And that’s a prime-mover in the music of The Salts and their album ‘Brave’ ... freedom and fearlessness to invent.’