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English folk singer and conservationist Sam Lee goes on tour

Folk singer Sam Lee, author of the The Nightingale: Notes on a Songbird, brings historic rural music back to venues throughout the UK this autumn with a 19-date tour

Sam Lee live at WOMEX, Greece. /Credit: Ankur Malhotra

Folk singer, naturalist, author, event promoter and song collector, Sam Lee has contributed hugely to the folk music scene in the UK, since his early days of volunteering at Cecil Sharp House (the home of English folk music) up to his latest project working spearheading English Heritage’s ‘Songs of England’. It’s no surprise, then, that in his third album, Old Wow+, he has pulled together some big names that include a vocal performance from Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins), performances by Cosmo Sheldrake and production by Bernard Butler (Suede).

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The album is a reissue of the original ‘Old Wow’, which was released 16 months ago, with this edition including six extra songs that include new material that grew out of his English Heritage collaboration. The 19-date tour begins in Norwich this Wednesday 19 October and finishes in Glasgow on the 27th November.

His book, The Nightingale: Notes on a Songbird, came out in March 2021.

Read our review of Old Wow+

Sam Lee’s 2021 UK Tour Dates

13 October NORWICH Norwich Arts Centre
14 October SHEFFIELD Firth Hall, University of Sheffield
17 October HEBDEN BRIDGE Trades Club
18 October CHESTER Storyhouse
20 October BRISTOL St George’s
21 October SOUTHAMPTON Turner Sims
23 October MANCHESTER RNCM Theatre (matinee 2pm)

Manchester Folk Festival

24 October MORECAMBE More Music
25 October COLCHESTER Colchester Arts Centre
31 October STROUD Sub Rooms
02 November BRIGHTON The Old Market
04 November TOTNES St Mary’s Church
05 November

06 November

CORSHAM

BIRMINGHAM

Pound Arts Centre

St Paul’s Church

07 November UPPINGHAM Goldmark Gallery
11 November

25 November

LONDON

NEWCASTLE

Union Chapel

Gosforth Civic Theatre

26 November STIRLING Tolbooth
27 November GLASGOW GUU (Glasgow University Union)

Our review of Old Wow by Sam Lee (Cooking Vinyl)

Old Wow Sam Lee Album

Inspired by nature, magic, death and renewal, Sam Lee’s third album of moody, melancholic folk has a dark beauty. An innovative musician and environmental activist, Lee reworks traditional folk songs and spirituals to create haunting fusions. Arrangements are rich without being overpowering, with double bass, strings and piano accompanying Lee’s soulful baritone.

Produced by Suede’s Bernard Butler, the album also introduces instruments previously unheard in Lee’s works – notably the guitar and electric guitar, both played sensitively by Butler. The Moon Shines Bright, featuring Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins, is a particular highlight, a beautiful hymn to the night sky, while Soul Cake is a captivating musical odyssey, moving from the old folk anthem Green Grow the Rushes to a modern romance of sweeping strings and eerie whistling.

Following Lee’s experience of performing within the ancient circle of Stonehenge for English Heritage’s Songs of England project, Old Wow has now been rereleased with six extra tracks: Awake, Awake Sweet England / John Barleycorn / Lay This Body Down (Live) / The Moon Shines Bright (Live) / Tan Yard Side / Improvisation. The final two bonus tracks showcase the trilling talents of nightingales, with which Lee duets beautifully, although the repetitive reverberating score running beneath Tan Yard Side rather ruins the effect. That’s the only criticism, however, in an altogether lovely collection of tracks.

Reviewed by MH

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• Buy Old Wow by Sam Lee from the official store