Skinny Lister are not your average, modern day, gentrified English folk group. Fronted by Dan Heptinstall and Lorna Thomas; a vocalist with a lusty cackle and flirtatious presence, the London based five-piece hail from across England. Borrowing the nickname from the Lister family, pioneers in the use of anesthetic, the band have grown naturally and organically over the past two years. Yorkshire born songwriter Heptinstall, Lorna’s older brother Max, and long-time shanty singer Sam ‘Mule’ Brace, met some time ago at a folk club in London’s Greenwich area. The arrival of Tyneside bassist Dan Gray and the naturally exuberant Lorna lifted them into another realm.
Up on their stomping feet and clicking their heels, the Skinny Lister sound took hold as Dan’s perceptive ballads and folkie idylls were boosted by an eruption of a rambunctious free spirited rum fueled party music. Soon the Skinny Lister sound was charging down the nation’s canals and waterways, bursting into spontaneous song in pubs and clubs, kicking up a summer frenzy at numerous festivals. Over 30 festivals in fact, a nonstop work rate that saw them acknowledged and awarded by PRS as the ‘Hardest Working Band’ of summer 2011. “We travelled hundreds of miles together in a Land Rover with a double bass strapped to the roof, sharing the driving, playing gigs every night and going out to party afterwards. We didn’t make it easy on ourselves but it does bond you as family.” Dan recollects.
Their allure is immediate – at a time when modern homegrown folk music often spells designer bearded, theme park Americanisation, Skinny Lister are a welcome throwback to earthier bands. Their musical blend has something of The Pogues’ infectious camaraderie and jovial recklessness combined with the bucolic English landscape of Alfred Wainwright’s fell walking guides.
Now, captured by producer David Wrench (Bat for Lashes, James Yorkston) on debut album Forge & Flagon, the band’s distinctive qualities make their mark. Titled after a homemade pub ran by Lorna and Max’s family friends, Forge & Flagon marks Skinny Lister as an outfit who are decidedly more than the sum of their parts. Galvanised by months of road action they transform traditional and contemporary influence into a singular sound. See them live and the impression is fortified. Not least as Lorna’s outgoing crowd connecting personality is replicated by the rum dispensing, skirt hiking, leg shaking, five strong, all female, party starting troupe the Skinny Sisters.
Skinny Lister the stand-apart folk band – not afraid to match sensitivity with a high kicking free for all. Time to open the floodgates and get the deck party started. (But beware the Skinny Sisters, folks – those ladies take no prisoners!)
9th Jan 2013