Fisherman’s Friends - All Aboard

2024 studio album

All Aboard - Fisherman’s Friends

the bright young folk review

2024 sees Port Isaac’s favourite singing fishermen return for their swashbuckling tenth album All Aboard, amidst smashing 100,000 followers on Facebook and signing a fresh deal with Island Records. This surely places them among the biggest and most famous traditional folk artists in the UK, if not the world.

Indeed, in 2023 alone they sold over 50,000 concert tickets (impressive considering they are part-time) while Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical sold over 250,000 tickets. Their two feature films, which tell the story of their remarkable journey to the pop charts, have grossed a combined fifteen million pounds at the UK box office.

For those who have been living under a rock, The Fisherman’s Friends crashed the pop-charts in 2010 following a million-pound record deal and have been the UK’s premier source of shanties ever since. Their unlikely and inspiring story has been the muse of a best-selling book and TV documentary, as well as the aforementioned films and musical.

This latest album is an overall joyous sing-along of sea shanties from the 18th Century, in addition to the odd song from more recent times. It is clear that they have had to delve a little deeper for new material as their previous albums contained all the most popular shanties. This is no issue at all as the chosen songs are excellent and its wonderful to see some lesser-known shanties given some airtime by such a big artist.

It’s not all jolly, however, with songs such as England and Old Maui showing the bands slower, more sombre side. These songs help give the album real depth and serve as a poignant reminder of the bands seafaring roots; it is always worth remembering that none of the band are musicians or singers by trade.

For fans of The Fisherman’s Friends, this album, for better or worse, certainly has the most commercial feel to it, mostly down to its production. It has the precision cleanliness of a pop record and whilst it is lovely to see folk music given this treatment, some of the raw emotion and power from their voices is lost. A more laissez-faire attitude to production is preferable for an artist like this because it gives room for their genuine talent, rather than trying to smooth over every aspect of their vocals.

The goal of this album is to bring to life the music that fuelled generations of seafarers and to get people of all backgrounds singing them aloud. On this, the album certainly delivers; a real challenge to listen to without wanting to join in.

Harvey Coates

Produced by Rupert Christie. Released 19 January by Mighty Village Records, under exclusive license to Universal Music Operations.

1. Sam’s Gone Away
2. Deep Blue Swell
3. Jolly Roving Tar
4. The Golden Vanity
5. God Moves On The Water
6. Lukey’s Boat
7. England
8. Round The Corner Sally
9. Old Maui
10. Leaving Tipperary
11. Rolling Home To Caledonia
12. Spanish Ladies

Fisherman’s Friends discography

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Fisherman’s Friends

Producer credits

Rupert Christie