Tony Birch of Fatea
reviews Off the Land by Granny's AtticSuch is the pace of music these days it sounds almost wrong to describe Granny's Attic as a young band; after all they have been together for six years, are in their early twenties and Off The Land is their second full album. What is certain is that Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne (Melodeon, Concertina, Vocals), George Sansome (Guitar, Vocals) and Lewis Wood (Fiddle, Mandolin, Vocals) are folk musicians. Eight of the eleven tracks are traditional songs with the remainder being tunes or sets written by Lewis Wood.
The album opens with "Away To The South'ard", a 19th century shanty, and it certainly has an authentic feel to it. As the band reference in the sleeve notes to the album it's a very good effort from three Midlanders. There's a good nautical feel to the traditional "The Death Of Nelson", too; you can almost hear the slap of canvas and taste the salt. This traditional song about the death of a National Hero - and many more nameless sailors - could easily be sung as a dirge but it fairly bounds along. The triptych of maritime songs is completed with "Poor Old Man", a shanty about a horse; a sailor's tradition explained in the notes.
The remaining songs have their feet firmly on solid ground but staying with the theme of ordinary people trying to get a fair crack of the whip, as folk songs tend to do. We hear of the pitman's wife trying to persuade the mine owner that his misdeeds will be judged by a higher authority if he doesn't change his ways, or in "Country Hirings" farmworkers lamenting their poor wages and conditions, whilst the owner take the profits, and determining to remember come the next hiring day when they might get a chance to move on. It's a song that still echoes down the years.
Off The Land is a good title for the album because Britain is that combination of land and sea, and would not be what it is today without a combination of both.
The tunes written by Lewis Wood fit well into the album. They are certainly modern but with a genuine feel and understanding for music that stretches back into the past. An inebriated journey home is not a new phenomenon in folk songs but for "Lacy House / Right Under The Bridge" the inspiration was a journey by taxi rather than on horseback.
That is what Granny's Attic do so well. They are not just another trio playing music that has are around for years. They have a verve and enthusiasm, sprinkled with a good dose of youthful exuberance and humour, that makes these songs sound fresh and relevant still. It should also be noted that they are fine musicians and use their combined voices to good effect.
Whilst we are fortunate today to have many fine musicians who can fuse styles to excellent effect it is good see that the traditions of English folk are not being ignored, but carried forward with genuine appreciation and gusto. This is an excellent album that will appeal to a wide range of listeners and should do well. I was particularly impressed by the sleeve notes, which capture the character of the band as well as any of the songs.
"They would sing, dance and collect beer money - we like to see ourselves as bearers of at least two of those traditions."
The album is available to pre-order now, with a release date of 26th August, from Propermusic or all usual streaming services.