Traveler 2012

Five men on a dead man’s chest: uncovering and forging treasures of the deep for the sheer delight of the journey.


Over the years, there have been quite a few successful albums of sea shanties, yet pirate-rock records are still thin on the ground – or on the water for that matter – and mostly limited to theatrical metal, which is what was bound to make “Mutiny” a masterpiece. It could become a perfect soundtrack to “Black Sails” if Scott Jeffers cared to unbalance romanticism and darkness; more so, the American artist is experienced enough to not try and play the role of a salty dog. Instead, the veteran prefers, veering off his usual geographically oriented course, to marry traditional merriment to the equally reckless original songs to create a riveting narrative to see the listener reeling and spinning this disc on and on.

Perhaps, placing “Hall Of The Mountain King” on the platter as a penultimate number may seem platitudinous – the scene in question is not Ali Baba’s Cave, after all – but Scott’s fiddle, propelled by Gary Wilson’s upright bass and percussive profundity courtesy of Ken Mary, who also arranged strings on the magnificent “Pirate Girl” to bolster Jeffers’ oft-flaunted yodel and rendering the tune irresistible, is moving Grieg’s perennial far from its symphonic scope, and enveloping the classic in a folk perspective. As a result, the storyline contexts, started with the album’s arresting title track, will be enriched, and the band captain’s voice and mandolin will lodge themselves in one’s soul as the evergreen drama of “My Lagen Love” and the equally ancient, and extremely heartfelt, if effects-laden and catchy, song “My Son Jon” are expected to, while instrumental “Calico Jack” sees Rackham’s adventures swirl with blinding speed and an acoustic filigree.

There can be histrionics on such cuts as “No Tomorrow” yet they suit these baroque-tinctured and riff-ruffled epics very well, and Scott’s heroic delivery, alternately calm and frantic, is always on the money feeling-wise. So when the sound of bells and waves announce the arrival of “Dead Men Of The Deep” that should bring hymnal vocal harmonies with it, the platter’s potential triumph gets swept away for a most spectacular finale… which would be the start of a new cycle. As a call to arms, “Mutiny” can, and must, never stop.


March 15, 2022

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