by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for FolkAlley.com
From an outsider’s perspective, English folk singer Sam Lee’s eclectic — if not downright eccentric — life as a Chelsea School of Art student, burlesque dancer, and wilderness expert was either going to prepare him for absolutely anything or absolutely nothing. Middle of the road, it certainly was not. But, when he met Scottish Traveller singer Stanley Robertson, the preparation for absolutely anything came in handy.
For four years, Robertson mentored Lee in the ages-old tradition of Traveller and Gypsy music. He also met and studied with other masters of the form, including Freda Black, who passed her “Bonny Bunch of Roses” torch to the young singer. With that front-row seat and first-hand experience, Lee embarked upon his own mission of bringing those old songs into the now, as well as the future. And the response has been overwhelmingly positive, with critics calling Lee the Alan Lomax of Gypsy music. His debut album, ‘Ground of Its Own,’ won the United Kingdom’s Arts Foundation prize in 2011 and was nominated for the Mercury Music Award in 2012.
Lee’s follow-up LP, ‘The Fade in Time,’ will be released in the U.S. — in tandem with ‘Ground of Its Own’ — next week. Recorded over the course of three months at Imogen Heap’s Hideaway Studio in Essex with Arthur Jeffes and Jamie Orchard-Lisle serving as co-producers, it is filled with ancient Gypsy folk songs that have rarely been heard outside the Traveller communities that roam the British Isles.
‘The Fade In Time’ was released in the US via Thirty Tigers on June 16. The full album stream is no longer available, but you can sample a track from the collection below!