Sam Kelly and his trio’s EP is an explosion - both of folk-rock and of fresh talent. There’s far more to it than smoky guitar solos, though; a mixture of traditional and self-penned songs, Spokes is as gentle as it is raucous, and blends virtuoso acoustic/electric instrumentation with tender vocals.
It opens with the traditional song On Board a 98. At first lulling the listener with gentle guitar picking and the sounds of creaking wood and rushing water, the song quickly gives over to driving percussion and banjo, telling the story of a young man who is press-ganged onto a warship.
Healing Hands, a song written by Sam Kelly, has a lighter feel, relying on the sparkling high range of the banjo and the mesmeric combination of James Findlay’s fiddle and Evan Carson’s bodhran.
It contrasts sharply with Hickathrift. Based on an East Anglian legend about Tom Hickathrift, a giant slayer, this four-minute track weaves between dark, grinding electric guitar and bursts of haunting solo vocals.
Cypress Grove, originally written by Skip James, is also a nice addition, and the final song, an eerie rendition of The Unquiet Grave, plays out beautifully on guitar and banjo.
Spokes is a striking and energetic EP from an artist you should definitely keep an eye out for.Sol Loreto-Miller
Released on Hairpin Records on 9th February 2015 and distributed by Proper Distribution. Recorded at Metway Studios, Brighton and additional recording at J. Franklin Studio. Engineered by Tobias May and Josh Franklin; produced by Josh Franklin. Mastered by Mastering Media Ltd. Artwork by Jenny Handley and graphic design by www.laurawhitehouse.co.uk .
Sam Kelly - vocals, guitar, cittern, piano
Jamie Francis - vocals, banjo, electric guitar, resonator, harmonica, mandolin
Evan Carson - vocals, drums, bodhran
Josh Franklin - electric bass, rhodes
Tom Pollyn - double bass, vocals
James Findlay - fiddle, melodeon
1. On Board A 98
2. Healing Hands
4. Cypress Grove
5. The Unquiet Grave (Live at Rusty’s House)