Skinny Lister could be considered something of an oddity in today’s music scene. Their debut album, “Forge & Flagon,” offers a window into a bygone era of English music. The five-part group was formed in a Greenwich area folk club in 2009, and they’ve been shaking up the UK ever since. Having released several singles and EPs amidst a hectic touring schedule, their first full album, Forge & Flagon, showcases the talent that made them heroes in dozens of venues across England.
Much of the band’s appeal comes from their embracing traditional English folk as its core genre. Many bands do one-offs in the style of a pub chant, but few can match Skinny Lister’s devotion to the form, and that fact has made them a growing part of Europe’s cultural conversation. The text on the album says it best. “In an era where singing a song in a pub can get you thrown out for rowdiness, Skinny Lister is a joyful reassertion of community principles.”
On the band’s website, vocalist Lorna Thomas explains that her father’s love of the music, ‘getting legless’ and singing with local musicians inspired her interest in the genre. “I disowned him at the time but now, of course, I join him!” she states. Many of the band’s members were raised listening to folk music, and they have grown to take the genre to new heights.
The band is currently on tour in the United States, opening for Flogging Molly. Looks like they won’t be coming to our area anytime soon, though; their nearest venue was in Chicago on the 26th. The tour has, however, given Skinny Lister a huge amount of exposure in the US, and their performances have received a very positive reception from American audiences.
I personally recommend track 1, “If The Gaff Don’t Let Us Down,” because its upbeat and memorable chorus offers an excellent overview of the album’s tone. If you want to sample some of the softer songs ‘Forge’ has to offer, try track 11, “Plough and Orion,” for its beautiful instrumentals and excellent duet vocals.
Overall, Forge & Flagon is a fun time for those looking for something upbeat to listen to. Fans of bands like Mumford and Sons will love the crisp instrumentals and catchy choruses. ‘Forge’ is ideal for long hikes, road trips, and cars packed with friends who aren’t afraid to sing. No doubt, some will be turned off by the album’s sound, but they will most likely be in the minority.
I give “Forge & Flagon” by Skinny Lister a nine out of 10.