Sam Lee & Friends (UK)
How many traditional English folk singers do you know who come from North London, studied at Chelsea School of Art, worked as a forager and wilderness expert while moonlighting as a burlesque dancer – until a chance encounter led to the door of the great Scottish Traveller singer Stanley Robertson, and an extraordinary four-year apprenticeship into the arcane, living world of traditional song that few outside the Traveller and Gypsy communities have ever experienced?
Since bursting on to the folk scene at the end of the Noughties, Mercury Prize-nominee Sam Lee has blazed a trail as an outstanding singer and song collector. Lee collects new versions of old songs on his iPhone and laptop, but his repertoire is steeped in the reek and smoke of folk history and lore, its tales of love, parting, exile and murder bound by a sympathetic magic still resonant today, parting the veil on vivid scenes from the UK’s deep history.
But Sam and his band perform not in the slightest bit traditionally, but rather create a radical yet melodic new passage for folk song for the contemporary audience. Don’t expect old English hornpipes and ‘foldy roll’ chorus songs. Together they fuse a sound incomparable to anything else within the folk revival’s canon, dedicated to serving these stunning songs almost lost to obscurity with as much joy and passion as has kept them sung for at least the last 500 years.