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Ben Nicholls of Sea Song Sessions band
Ben Nicholls of the Sea Song Sessions band

Topic Records announces Sea Song Sessions

Sea-bound folkies announce a collaborative album with a nautical theme, Sea Song Sessions, and plan to tour by tallship.

Album sleeve for Sea Song Session on Topic Records
Release Date
30 September 2022
The Sea Song Sessions album featuring performances by Jon Boden, Seth Lakeman, Ben Nicholls, Emily Portman and Jack Rutter makes dock on September 30th, 2022.

Fresh from announcing the new Angeline Morrison album, Topic Records have once again cranked up the publicity machine to bring us news of a new collaboration featuring five luminaries of folk. Dropping anchor on September 30th, Sea Song Sessions is a 13-track album put together by former Blur producer, Ben Hillier, collating the nautical repertoires of Jon Boden, Seth Lakeman, Ben Nicholls, Emily Portman and Jack Rutter.

The idea for the album came from a collaboration between the five musicians commissioned by Folkestone Festival. Enjoying the way things worked out, the freshly-minted band came together in a studio with Hillier for a scant two days, recording everything quickly in the hope of maintaining a spontaneous sense of energy. Each musician brought sea songs that they knew well, many of which were traditional shanties and broadsides, some of which were originals or relatively modern songs that they had developed an affinity with throughout their careers.

The first single from the album is ‘The Rambling Sailor’ [Roud 518], a song that has been collected (true to its title) in the UK, the USA and Australia. 292 references to the song exist in the VWML archives, and the rambler’s profession seems to change depending on where it was collected. “I first heard my Father singing this song as ‘The Rambling Miner'”, explains the singer, Seth Lakeman. “This version as ‘The Rambling Sailor’ is based on the 1968 version from Maddy Prior and Tim Hart and resonates with where I’m from as it mentions young Johnson stopping in Southern ports such as Plymouth.”

Non-traditional songs include ‘Salvation Army Band Girl’ (Jon Boden), ‘The Good Ship Anny’ (Seth Lakeman) and the modern Lal Waterson/Oliver Knight classic, ‘Some Old Salty’, which Emily Portman has been known to sing as part of the extended Waterson Family concerts.

Sea Song Sessions will be supported by a handful of onboard and harbourside performances in Looe Harbour (September 27th), Charlestown Harbour (September 28th) and Falmouth Maritime Museum (September 30th). And just for good measure, they’ll be sailing between each gig on the Tallship Anny of Charlestown (yes, you read that correctly).

The album, which continues the Topic Records tradition of legendary sea-fairing albums, is available for pre-order via this link.

Sea Song Sessions tracklist

  1. The Rambling Sailor
  2. The Dreadnought (Bound Away)
  3. Rock’n’Row Me Over
  4. Salvation Army Band Girl (Jon Boden)
  5. Jack and the Bear Skin
  6. Short Jacket and White Trousers
  7. The Good Ship Anny (Seth Lakeman)
  8. Fire Marengo
  9. Some Old Salty (Lal Waterson/Oliver Knight)
  10. The Mermaid’s Song
  11. The Lady and the Lantern
  12. Young Susan on Board of a Man-of-War
  13. Deep Blue Sea