Sam Lee plays a unique role in the British music scene. A highly inventive and original singer, folk song interpreter, a passionate conservationist, committed song collector and a successful creator of live events. Alongside his organisation The Nest Collective and fellow collaborators Sam has shaken up the live music scene breaking the boundaries between folk and contemporary music and the assumed place and way folksong is heard.
And for the first time, Sam includes the instrument most notably absent from his recording career, the guitar and electric guitar at that, played by the album’s producer Bernard Butler. Other musicians involved include what he calls the “classic line-up” of piano (James Keay), bass (Misha Mullov-Addado) and percussion (Josh Green), along with Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh of the acclaimed band The Gloaming (on Hardanger violin). Guest vocals are also contributed to the album with a remarkable appearance by Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins, plus splendid harmonies from Cosmo Sheldrake and spoken word poet Dizraeli.
It’s a thoughtful, soaring and moving set of songs, dominated by Sam’s soulful and sensitive vocals and no cliché in saying it’s his most assured recording to date. This is no coincidence being an album devoted to his love and passion for the natural world; a commitment that has dominated Sam’s heart and non-musical practice for many more years than he’s been singing. Yes, Sam plays a unique role in the British music scene. And now, with Old Wow he has re-worked traditional songs to create what he describes as “a timeless bridge, music that can be looking both backward and forwards, and a soulful accompaniment to an urgent need to fall back in love with nature if we are to know how to protect it”.
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