Ye Banished Privateers takes you 300 years back in time for an imaginary journey through the harsh life at sea during the early 18th century. With songs inspired by traditional Irish and Scandinavian folk music, acting, and elaborate historical clothing, the privateers tell a story about the rough sailor’s life, lived on the other side of the law – and the fight against oppression and nationalism. Together, the nearly 30 crew members take turns to go on tour and plunder, and with around a dozen sailors on stage no two shows are ever the same. The mix of rude folk and punk music invites you to dance and sing along, while the gripping ballads will make the toughest of pirate hearts soft.
‘Annabel’ sets the scene for this album perfectly. Using atmospheric instrumentation, and the sound of lapping waves to increase this atmosphere. The track led by their female vocalist – Magda Andersson, and the backing vocals work perfectly to tell the story within the lyrics and to emphasise the time this song sounds like it’s set in. There’s a great amount of repetition to get you singing and swaying along, which I really like in this first track specifically as it’s very memorable and I find it makes you want to listen on to the rest of the album. I really like how they’ve got the lead vocalist telling her story in 1st person and then the backing vocalists, for the review I’m going to call them the crew, telling her story in 3rd person. This is a very interesting way to go about lyric-writing and it greatly emphasises the storytelling within the lyrics.
‘A Night at the Schwarzer Kater’ picks up more a more folky melody, lead by a man who sounds about as drunk as he should sound for the story he’s telling. Whilst I’m not finding this track as easy to listen to I’m still tapping my foot and enjoying the theme it’s got going for it. There’s some really great musicianship going on and they continue the repetition to get you swaying along. This one took me a few listens to really enjoy but I don’t think that’s a reason to put it down as an individual track. It’s following the theme of the album well.
Album title track ‘First Night Back in Port’ greatly picks up pace and we’re kicked off with the male vocals painting a rather 19th century picture in my mind. Joined shortly by the female vocalist and a rather catchy chorus about what would be on the mind of every man upon arriving back in port. This track is the first in the album where we hear both vocalists singing together, and the vocalists split the vocal parts perfectly, with the accompaniment of the folk instrumentation is really helping to put me in the mindframe of being back in that time, this album so far is taking me back to the early 1800s.
‘All the Way to Galway’ is structured a little differently to the others so far, jumping from the harsher vocal parts to the cleaner chorus. I found this track rather forgettable and had to give it a couple of listens. I’m honestly not too sure the jump from the verses to the chorus really works, however it’s not difficult to overlook and continue enjoying the track for what it is. The instrumentation remains true to the album, and I quite enjoy the chorus but the verses really aren’t doing much for me. However there’s the chant of “all the way to Galway hey-a’’ which repeats a fair bit throughout and catches the listener’s attention, similarly to the previous tracks.
Hey ri do rum dum, hey ri do more rum! ‘Cooper’s Rum’ has stayed in my head for far too long. It has to be my personal favourite from the album, but without letting bias get in the way: There’s a build up which the other tracks don’t have, this automatically puts the chorus in your head, there’s great amount of folk music instrumentation, which you’ve probably come to expect by this point. Accompanied by both the male and female vocals typical of the band, the catchy chorus (but this time I’m singing it), and some verses similar to the styles of the previous styles, but not quite as harsh from the male vocalist. I found this track much more enjoyable and if you’re not planning on giving the whole album a listen I would suggest you check out this track at least!
Similarly to the previous track, ‘Skippy Aye Yo’ has a build up. Just the male vocalist slowly building up to the point where the rest of the band begin to back him. The instrumentation remains the same but follows a much more basic melody. This song is very repetitive and therefore very memorable. The track continues to build up, with more vocalists joining by the sound of it, then fades out at the end. I quite like the track, whilst it doesn’t stand out as a gem from the album it doesn’t let the album down. It’s a track I can imagine going down very well if performed live, as the way it builds and the consistent tempo could easily be something you can sway and sing to.
‘I Dream of You’ ia a love song! Lyrically this song is great, it tells a story of a man leaving his woman and kids behind and starting a new life in America. It’s different from the other tracks lyrically, and instrumentally it’s much more upbeat and happy. The raspy voice of the male vocalist remains through parts but this song features clean vocals from him that we’ve not yet heard in this album.
‘A Declaration of Independance’ has a much slower start, telling a tale about a man heading to war. It quickly picks up pace and begins to take a slightly more political approach lyrically. The instrumentation feels stripped down in this until the chorus kicks in. This really emphasises the chorus and creates an epic feeling with all the vocals and instruments building together.
‘For a Fragile Moment’s Ease’ has a stripped down intro musically, one vocalist and a guitar, joined shortly by a violin. In the background there is the sound of laughing children, telling a story of a place where people are free to laugh and enjoy themselves, and swiftly building into the man’s life story. The instrumentation builds up, the track picks up pace and we follow a man swiftly through his past. Leading to a slower end, explaining where he resides now in peace. The folky melody picks up again and the tempo increases as the track builds to it’s end. This song is not as repetitive as the rest of the album but it really stood out to me for it’s increasing speed.
An accordion leads the intro in ‘We Are Ye Banished Privateers’, accompanied by some raspy spoken word from the male vocalist, outlining the crew becoming privateers. The track is swiftly throw into a very upbeat and jolly melody. This track is memorable, mostly for its enthusiastic chorus. The song as a whole follows a very similar style to the rest of the album, but it’s much cleaner and very well written. This is another personal favourite of mine from this album.
‘Bosuns Verses’ follows the tale of a bosun who’d lost his legs attempting to sink a schooner. The intro “Hej Hå, Hej Hå” takes you back to swaying and singing along almost immediately. The track is very repetitive and easy to follow, and whilst I don’t think it stands out particularly well from the other tracks. I am enjoying this track.
The intro to ‘Eastindiamen’ is lead by the female vocalist, accompanied by the crew on parts, but she dominates this track greatly. The folky melody is catchy and the lyrics follow the tale of a ship sinking and tells the tale of a great loss of life, from the perspective of friends.
‘Devil’s Bellows’ is a noticeably longer track. Just under 9 minutes, which is almost double the previous tracks. Similarly to a lot of tracks on this album, it has a spoken word intro which is joined quickly by a folky melody. This song quickly takes a very dark turn which I didn’t expect from this album, whilst the track is upbeat and happy sounding the track follows the story of countless murders, in the form of a deal with the devil in return for a Brandoni Accordion. The track is very repetitive and very long, and with listening to it a couple of times and not paying particular attention to the lyrics I didn’t find it particularly interesting for how long it was. With that said when I followed it through paying more attention to the lyrics it struck me at how well written this track was, and how dark it was ultimately. It’s grown on me, so don’t let the length put you off.
‘Ringaroo at Coopr’s Inn’ sounds like a nursery rhyme, however I wouldn’t quite say the lyrics are as child-friendly as the music. Both vocalists share this song again, and this song is full of obscenities. I’m not much of a fan of songs that need to rely on being offensive, and for me this track actually lets the album down. It’s lacking a story like the other tracks had, the melody is in a minor key and is not as interesting as the other tracks, I also found the lyrics difficult to listen to. I’m going to kindly overlook this track and forget it’s on the album as I don’t want to spoil something that’s been so great so far.
Another extremely long track from the look of it,at just under 19 minutes in length this time is ‘Mermaid’s Kiss’. It is more of a ballad, telling a story of a female nurse, leaving to fight against the Brits. This takes you back into the theme the album carried throughout. The lyrics fill a very small amount of the song overall, and by the 4 minute mark the vocals are long gone and the song continues as an instrumental. This serves the album well overall, acting as an epic outro. The melody is repetitive, flutes and whistles seem to dominate a lot, backed with a rhythm guitar for the first part of the song. There are a few variations on the harmonies but it always remains very close. This makes it quite easy to listen to and builds toward the end of this track at about the 8 minute mark. The sound of a storm and lapping waves holds the atmosphere toward the end of the album. There’s also a little surprise at around the 14 minute mark which makes it worth listening to the whole duration of this track.