The eagerly awaited tenth studio album from folk rockers Levellers, Static on the Airwaves is nothing short of fantastic.
An emphatic follow-up to the critically acclaimed Letters from the Underground album from the pioneers of folk-punk, a genre now emulated by worldwide acts such as Frank Turner. The mature song writing, classic folk instruments clashed harmoniously together with punk ethics and the smooth and polished production (credit to Sean Lakeman, brother of folk pin-up Seth) coalesce to forge a highly respectable album full to the brim with anthems that cover greed, loss, war and the de-personalisation of identity.
We Are All Gunmen is a new sacred song for the loyal Leveller; its inclusive chorus and swelling vocals will get the entire crowd lifted and raising their fists in the air to declare their fellowship to the cause (whatever it may be!). We then move onto Truth Is, a foot stomping festival favourite (especially at their annual Beautiful Days get-together in Devon) with core traditional folk music at the heart of the song.
…a traditional Irish drinking song re-invented…
Sean Lakeman’s logical influence is evident throughout, particularly Our Forgotten Towns which seems highly influenced by Seth Lakeman’s Kitty Jay, a solo thrashing violin with a strong vocal performance to back it up. It works wonderfully for both tunes. Alone In The Darkness is personally one of my favourite on the album. It won’t be regarded as their best by the majority, but it’s distant yet soulful violin and simple, melodic guitar picking mingled with the theme of heartbreak and loneliness is enough to make the toughest man crumble.
The Recruiting Sergeant is best described as a traditional Irish drinking song re-invented. A jaunty, beery tune and despite its theme of the war, it still gets your head bopping and you’re feet moving. You get the impression of being thrust into the middle of an Irish pub whilst with a pint in your hand and song in your heart; a fantastic way to end an album and a gig.
…produced a fantastic album…
After the success and my own personal love for Letters From The Underground, it had me wondering if vocalist Mark Chadwick and dreadlocked bassist Jeremy Cunningham could pull off another studio album. Once again, my critical mouth was shut for me; they not only produced a fantastic album but they crafted a contender for the best Levellers album of all time.