The Young’uns – Another Man’s Ground (Hereteu Records)
Available 27th April
Fine purveyors of folk singing in its purest form, The Young’uns suddenly find themselves on their fourth album and hitting their 30th birthdays – in the words of the song, they may not be the young ones very long, but they have certainly made their mark after accidentally stumbling across community singing in a local folk club some ten years ago.
Taking inspiration from the events happening around them, most notably the actions of a group of Stockton residents who chased a Benefits Street film crew from their doors, the new album continues to celebrate working class heroes of the past and present with powerful and poignant tales of struggle, poverty and peace. Made up of self written material combined with songs based on the traditional or by writers from their own home ground and beyond, they make them their own with the focus on confident arrangements and a unique delivery. One which celebrates singing unashamedly and proudly in their own accent rather than the common yet and depressingly skewed view that an overwrought nasal transatlantic whine is the way forward.
The themes of social injustice, war and industry pervade the album, providing some loose theme or what could even be labelled a concept, and there’s something you don’t see every day, a folk concept album. The Young’uns take their lead from the groundbreaking work of Graeme Miles, Ewan MacColl and Billy Bragg in the way they take contemporary subjects as the basis for their writing and performance. Alongside You Won’t Find Me On Benefits Street, we get Sean Cooney writing about the horrific murder of Farzana Parveen and the so called honour killings in Pakistan adding a telling coda of “There’s no honour in killing” following the final line of “There’s no honour in killing Farzana Parveen.” He adds a couple of songs both based on fascinating stories sourced from material on the Great War, Private Hughes being a particularly poignant tale, but it’s the absorbing collection they’ve gathered form the pens of others which grabs the attention.
Billy Bragg’s Between The Wars needs little introduction and is sung with the same sort of conviction and passion as its originator would have it, but the late Graeme Miles is perhaps the one songwriter to whom The Young‘uns owe the greatest debt. His work has been a constant motivation and source of many of their interpretations. His visions and documentation through song of the late twentieth century landscape of the Teesside area are always sensitively presented – something which cannot always be said of the work of Ewan MacColl and Walter Kitteredge who are also mined for this collection.
Less than a year has passed since their Never Forget album (Louder Than War review here) which followed a similar trail of northern grounded song and ever so slightly beyond. The Young’uns seem to be on a roll, proud of their roots and giving a fresh slant with their particular brand of telling folk tales without pretention.