The natural world serves as the inspiration for this, Lee’s third album, which exemplifies his passion for Earth in the age of a climate crisis. His vocals are the linchpin that hold together an array of supporting musicians and vocalists that together have delivered a fantastic contemporary folk album.
Contemporary folk music has a bit of an uphill battle on its hands, having to produce something “new” that retains the soul of traditional music that was written many, many years ago. Sam Lee has managed this with Old Wow. The opening track The Garden of England , for example, is a rewrite of the trad song Seeds of Love which showcases Lee’s love of nature through lyrics that sing of the environment and how it goes hand in hand with creativity.
The Moon Shines Bright is the first song to truly showcase the collective nature of the album. Guest vocals from Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins injects another layer of passion to this track, which only strengthens the themes of album. Throughout the album Sam Lee takes the old and gives it new life and meaning in today’s world. Another great example of this is Turtle Dove which Lee reinterprets as a song still of love, but also of the climate crisis that threatens the lives of birds. The frantic nature of the accompaniment emphasises the danger brought about by the climate issues.
Any track here demonstrates Lee’s care for the planet. He has a remarkable ability to reinvigorate classic traditional songs while also retaining the feeling and soul which made the songs classics in the first place. Old Wow is a treat for folk music fans but beyond that, the passion behind Lee’s vocals is so strong that it is hard to believe anyone who cares about the planet won’t connect with these tracks.