Northern Journey Online

Tom Lewis

(Traditional; Contemporary; Singer-Songwriter)

British-born Tom Lewis may be one of Canada's most unusual folk artists. An ex-sailor (ex-submariner), Lewis writes and sings sea songs and shanties. These infectious creations, sung a cappella in the traditional style, are a throwback to an earlier tradition. Surfacing (1987) delivers over 40 minutes of mostly unaccompanied shanties. On Sea-Dog, See Dog! Lewis alters course slightly, singing other people's songs and adding more instrumentation and voices. Teaming up with American folksingers William Pint and Felicia Dale on choruses, the songs are less stark and the harmonies are smoother. The album includes a Richard Thompson song, "Down Where the Drunkards Roll," and one by Stan Rogers, "Down at the Sailor's Rest." If you liked Surfacing, you'll like this one even better.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Singer (1995) is a delightful recording, capturing all the magnetism of Lewis delivering shanties and songs, sometimes a cappella, sometimes with concertina, and occasionally with the joined voices of Friends of Fiddlers Green on chorus. Lewis shows himself to be a fine songwriter on this album, introducing several original tunes: "Sirensong," "The African Trade," "Somewhere Safe to Sea," "The Busker," "All at Sea," "Swallow the Anchor," "Message in the Bottle," "Tinker Tailor," and "Shiver Me Timbers." Lewis's songs sound as if they had been sung around seaports for the past two hundred years. He has a fine knack for writing in the shanty tradition. This energetic yet thoughtful album is an excellent purchase.

1987 Self Propelled Music (ASM101D)
A Sailor Ain't a Sailor (Last Shanty); Recall; Inside Every Sailor (Deceptions); Sailorman's Port in a Storm; Watches; The Hunter Home from the Hill; Landlocked Sailor; Marching Inland (Legend); Away; Bread and Butter to Me; Diesel and Shale; Cyril Said It All Before; Sailor's Prayer 42:23

Sea-Dog, See Dog!
[no date] Flying Fish (FF70547)
The Captain's Lady; Chicken on a Raft; A Whaler's Tale; The Big Fella'; Safe Harbour (For a Storm Tossed Heart); Doc ``Lemon''; Snap the Line Tight; Down Where the Drunkards Roll; North to Calleo; Down at the Sailor's Rest; A Seaman's Hymn; BUNTS! 57:56

Tinker Tailor Soldier Singer *
1995 Self Propelled Music (ASM104D)
150 Days out from Vancouver; Sirensong; New York Girls; The Widowmaker; Congo River; African Trade; Somewhere Safe to Sea; The Busker; Mother Carey; All at Sea; Bully in the Alley; Swallow the Anchor; Message in the Bottle; Tinker, Tailor; Shiver Me Timbers 49:28

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Copyright © 1999, Gene Wilburn,