First Night Back In Port is the third album from Ye Banished Privateers and their first since signing with Napalm Records. Napalm is creating a nice niche grouping of pirate bands that we here at Scoundrel’s Inn hope they continue. This is the first album since their second, The Legend of Libertalia, back in 2014. Before going on I do want to say if you want to get to know more about the band and band members may I suggest their interview on Under The Crossbones, very entertaining. Now then, the band hails from Sweden and gather their inspiration for their music from traditional Irish and Scandinavian songs while their themes, which continues to carry over on this album, come from 17th and 18th century history.
Fans of Ye Banished Privateers will not be disappointed. Signing with a major record label has not changed their style at all. They still master sounds beautifully to their music and on this album really give a few songs a certain sense of location that I don’t know I’ve seen a band do recently. The album is a third longer than their previous albums, but it doesn’t quite drop the quality of the album as it can on some albums. I don’t have any songs below a 3 and if I have one complaint it’s merely the order of the songs, but that’s my own personal gripe as I like albums to tell tales.
“Annabel” is the song that starts the album off and is a female version of South Australia. Essentially I believe it is South Australia from the female Nancy Blair’s perspective, which I think is a brilliant and original concept. There really is some splendid inclusions of waves into the song. The song has many layers and does a great job showcasing the various talents of the band. From flute, I believe a banjo, even to the chorus. A good reminder that this is a very large band. It slowly adds different instruments as it goes along and ends with a piece that just had me reminding me of the opening credit music to Boondock Saints. Don’t ask me why, but that’s what popped into my head.
“A Night At The Schwarzer Kater” is done in the more traditional Ye Banished Privateer style, plenty of heavy beats and I believe a concertina. It was a bit hard to follow at times as the beats and singer were at odds, but the chorus was very strong. It is likely my least favorite on the album, but still a good song. That may tell you how strong the album is.
“First Night Back In Port” is the first GREAT song on the album. As has been my wont since I started doing album reviews this goes down on my live crowd favorite list. The primary reason for this is I can easily see crowds, at least US crowds have not had the privilege to see an European crowd yet, sing along with the chorus. This also is another example of their musical range with their instruments. Easy to see why this was chosen for a music video and title song.
With “All The Way To Galway” I have to give the usual warning, as much as I’d like to be, I do not have the musical talent, education, etc as bands. I bring this up because I love the start of the song because I think it begins with a harpsichord? Just yet another example of the wide range of talent, and people, Ye Banished Privateers has. In this song I really enjoyed the interaction between the two singing styles, a very nice back and forth.
“Cooper’s Rum” is another from this album that is going on the live favorite prediction list. At the very least I expect this to become a Scoundrel’s Inn favorite. Though I suppose one could describe this as a drinking song it definitely made me want to get up and dance, and I’m essentially the father from Footloose. I really love the feeling that it is taking place in a dockside bar, part of that sense of location I was speaking about earlier.You see it sometimes in bits before songs but this is taken throughout the song and I hope it is a trend that catches on.
“Skippy Aye Yo” is going to be stuck in your head, I can almost guarantee it. I really dig the start of the song and is really some very dark fun. It made me instantly think of Treasure Island and judging by the lyrics I think that may be want the band is going for? Our third edition of live favorite, this one with even more specific ideas. I would actually use this song to start the set as a fun show opener. Start with the singer, the rest of the band slowly coming out and then go immediately from this song to Welcome to Tortuga, Skippy Aye Skippy Aye Yo.
“I Dream Of You” got an interesting reaction from me. I don’t think it was just the word but the chorus beat and the usage of the word America immediately had West Side Story’s America in my head. Something about the word and cadence I suppose. An interesting love song of sorts.
“A Declaration of Independence” knew where to hit me. I have an insatiable love for “The Kiss/The Gael” from Last Of The Mohicans and will take it in any form given. This song uses that as sort of the base so I immediately loved it. Lyrically it is simply outstanding. Felt like it really expressed feelings and attitudes of the time period which they sing about. Really well done all around.
“For A Fragile Moment’s Ease” begins with some beautiful guitar playing. This song has some very good story telling that the constant changes in tempo help it along. This not the star of the album or at the bottom, it’s just a solid piece of work they’ve done here.
“We Are Ye Banished Privateers” was done very interestingly. To me it sounds like something that is a bar story, so again that sense of location and place is being played with. The variety of the changing vocals throughout the song also makes you get the sense of this being a ship’s crew. A good song it just seems to have an interesting placement in the album. With a title like this you would expect it at the beginning or the end, this is two thirds of the way through. Though I suppose it does come at a place that would have been the end in previous albums.
“Bosun’s Verses” is quite the catchy tune. It is definitely a character story, very much like Fragile Moment’s. It is an interesting composition because where the lyrics make it a very fun song the usage of the chorus almost gives it a somber tone that I found interesting. It very well may be one of those songs you need to listen to a few times to really wrap your head around it.
“Eastindianmen” starts off musically really invoking the feel of the location they are singing about. I immediately felt an Indian vibe before the lyrics were even sung and that is a mighty feat and very well done. The story of the song if tremendous and really takes you on the journey. When they say their work is inspired by 17th and 18th century history this is the song they can point to as an example. It is a very strong song and they should be commended on the work the did here.
“Devil’s Bellows” continues the trend of invoking a certain feel. This time I get a sort of steampunkish/Abney Park vibe. Not only does it continue the streak of feels this is the third straight song that has very strong stories. They again play around with the changing of tempos that works with the storytelling. If I had a complaint on the song is it may have gone on just a tad too long. Again this is just personal preference, but the last thirty seconds while done well was waiting to get to the next one.
“Ringaroo At Cooper’s Inn” made me feel things down in the cockles of my heart, maybe even the sub-cockle area. The reason, another new song for the BACK BAHR! I think I can go out on a limb and say this song is about a brothel and has a very creepy feel by the addition of baby cries. Admittedly this will not be for everyone, if you are squeamish about language or sexuality you may want to move along to the end. For the rest of us I would suggest ear muffs for the any children in the room.
The last song is a twofer of sorts, hell you may even be able to count it as three. When I first saw the time on “Mermaid’s Kiss” I thought it was interesting since so many bands don’t do that long pause with a hidden track at the end that folks used to do. So naturally I assumed that would be happening here, I was wrong. The first third of the song is an appropriate album ender. Another interesting story that is met with an almost calming melody. Its long instrumental is something I can just listen to and have playing in the background all the time, they should really be proud of it. The real star of this song however starts around the 14:00 minute mark of the song, their rendition of “The Parting Glass”. It is an absolutely stunning version and I may even go out on a limb and say it is my favorite version ever. It does make me sad that it is not a separate track for show purposes, but maybe I can convince them to let me break it up to play on their own. So know that if you’re listening to the song allow it to play all the way through to be able to enjoy everything.
This album really shows the talent of the band. They are really coming into their own and their prime, which is fortuitous seeing that they just signed with Napalm Records. It shows their growth as artists as well as keeping the feel of their previous music that we all love. I would absolutely suggest this to all pirate music lovers. Their trajectory has been going up at a steady rate so let’s make this album a success because if the trajectory holds true we should all hold onto our hats for their fourth album.