Skinny Lister, last year crowned ‘The Hardest Working Band In Britain’, have spent the last couple of years tirelessly touring the UK, playing gigs anywhere and everywhere to rapturous receptions. They’ve used this time and previous EP releases to hone their song writing and musicianship, and have perfected their craft to become unsinkable and as tight as an Admiral’s trousers. They have poured this craft into the lovingly created body of work that is Forge & Flagon.
The album opener, old favourite ‘If The Gaff Don’t Let Us Down’, sets out their stall and the tone of the album is clear for all from the very first note of the accordion. This is a furiously fun track, and will have you stomping your foot so much and so hard that it will either put a hole in whatever you’re stomping, or it will simply fall off. Whatever happens first. The shout along vocals that see the whole band merrily roar lyrics back at you invoke visions of people with their arms around each other, flagon of mead in hand, belting out a favourite ditty. If you thought that this track is a good sing along, the very next track, ‘John Kanaka’, is even more of a sing along, featuring almost no instruments.
The sense of fun and cheer is evident throughout the album, and if you can’t smile at songs such as the delightful ‘Rollin’ Over’ then it’s possible that you are dead inside. The musical arrangements are never complicated yet are always memorable, vastly entertaining and, dare I say it, downright charming. I simply can’t fathom how someone cannot be charmed by a song such as ‘Seventeen Summers’ or the dreamy ‘Plough And Orion’. And I defy you not to fall in love with the rich tapestry of lyrical storytelling that weaves delightfully throughout the album. Tales of weddings, the flights of birds, sea based adventures, yearning for home and love are just some of things sung about, and with great gusto.
Probably the best thing about this album though is that it feels like an inclusive experience, in that when listening to it you really feel that you are taking part in what the band are singing, be it in the story or the telling of it. When listening to this album, I always have a smile on my face and I’m always singing along and stomping my foot or tapping my toes or moving in some way to the music. Skinny Lister have somehow found a way to be right beside you when you listen to Forge & Flagon, and it’s that that makes it so utterly wonderful. This is absolutely album that you simply must own. A contender for album of the year.