London-based Shanty are back with this track from their forthcoming EP. A soul-leaning and slow-tempo track with some hip-hop interventions toward the end from MC Levi Gordon, the song features vocalist Ben Willis and the rest of the seven-piece band with a new sound inspired by their roots origins.
It is now two years since the band’s first release and they have been favourably reviewed on these pages before (see reggaemusic.org.uk 24th September 2015). Shanty has featured at festivals in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, including Glastonbury, Outlook, Bestival, the Secret Garden Party, Rototom Reggae Sunsplash and Kendal Calling, sharing the stage with, amongst others, Sticky Fingers, Kevin Parker, Mark Ronson, Bastille and Madness. This month they are playing a sixteen-date UK tour, some of which will be in support of the Wailers.
‘Happy to be Sad’ is a personal and emotional song and a fine hint of what will be to follow on their new EP release.
Shanty: single ‘Happy to be Sad’ from forthcoming EP ‘Strange Little Human’, released March 2017
Being dubbed (so to speak) as the “best of British reggae” and “a very talented young band of players” by no less than David Rodigan gives any band a lot to live up to. Shanty’s reaction is to keep to the same successful course they have already embarked upon. Their new single is, as on previous releases (see reggaemusic.org.uk 29 September 2014), an upbeat brass-led danceable sound that captures the vocals of Ben Willis very effectively. This London band has established a formidable live reputation, playing alongside the likes of the Skints, Prince Fatty and Neville Staple, and they have captured that live feel in this new release. Instrumentally Shanty share the approach of the Specials but the mood is different: Shanty are a feel-good bunch. The sound of the band can best be described as the Specials without the doom and gloom.
Following the release of their debut single ‘Blackout’ earlier this year, here comes the debut EP from the Shanty band, a seven-piece outfit from North-West London who have established a distinctive niche by turning the best of the received reggae tradition into their own contemporary brass-laden sound. They have already appeared at festivals including Boomtown Fair, Leopallooza, Secret Garden Party and Glastonbury, and have shared the stage with the estimable Skints and Prince Fatty, and the venerable Neville Staple.
Recorded at Sawmills studio in Cornwall (previously better known for hosting indie bands including Oasis, The Verve, Supergrass and The Stone Roses) all songs on this new EP were written by the band. The production is minimalist in the best sense: hints of reverb, echo and dub used sparingly and all the more effective for that. The title track is straightforward reggae, with prominent brass making itself known throughout, a confident sound which suggests it would be highly powerful in a live setting. In fact the whole EP sounds as though it was made to be performed live rather than in the confines of a studio. ‘Bohemian Soul’ is a slower reggae tune – almost a reggae ballad – a regular rhythm with, again, a strong brass input, and a nice dub touch mid-way through as the instruments fade to illuminate the underlying melody more clearly: a strong track. ‘Rise Up’ offers more assertive vocals over a slowish reggae rhythm, while concluding track ‘One More’ opens with a retro scratchy sound and distant skank before heading into a relatively slow-paced song with an interesting mix going on behind the vocals. The EP as a whole can, perhaps strangely, be described as mellow – at ease with itself – and the sequencing seems just right for the four songs on offer here in adding to this impression.
Tour dates just announced – correct at time of writing: October 9th – Antwerp Mansion, MANCHESTER; October 10th – Komedia, BRIGHTON; October 11th – SECRET SHOW; October 16th – Tiki Bar and Grill, PLYMOUTH; October 17th – The Unicorn Porthtowan, CORNWALL; October 18th – Mr. Wolf’s Bristol, BRISTOL; October 24th – Donkey Leicester, LEICESTER; October 25th – Hootananny Brixton, LONDON.
Shanty ‘Leave Me Out’ EP, release 22nd September 2014