The only reason that this album isn’t absolutely perfect is that there isn’t enough of it. It’s not that The Young ‘Uns have short-changed us – there are twelve finely-crafted tracks here – but they make their points with remarkable alacrity and three tracks make it across the line in under two minutes.
The trio’s music remains rooted in the North-East and their choice of covers reflects those roots. There are two songs from Teesside songwriter Graeme Miles, both reflective of the changing times and landscape of the region and Ewan MacColl’s ‘School Days Over’ which applies to any mining area for a century.
The album opens with the neat pairing of the traditional ‘Jimmy Go Down To Your Uncles’ – a song about pawn shops – with ‘You Won’t Find Me On Benefits Street’, written by Sean Cooney and David Eagle giving a modern viewpoint on poverty. Politics are present in ‘Between The Wars’ proving that nothing has changed in the last thirty years and ‘Tom Paine’s Bones’ which serves to remind us what happens to those who don’t toe the line. Two of Sean’s songs are inspired by minor incidents in the Great War, both concerning letters. One was cast into the sea in a bottle and took eighty-five years to be delivered; the other came from the enemy and took a mere eleven days but both detail moments of humanity amongst the conflict. ‘Tenting Tonight’, a song from the American Civil War, is something of an odd man out but again reflects on the common humanity of both sides in a war.
‘The Streets Of Lahore’ is probably destined to go straight into the shared repertoire or generate a fatwah. It tells of the “honour” killing of a young woman in broad daylight outside the Lahore High Court, related as straightforwardly as such an atrocity can be. It is a stunning piece of writing but it really does test one’s tolerance for different views and ways of life.
Another Man’s Ground is an exceptionally fine record and, for once, I really can’t find anything to be critical about.
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‘Between The Wars’ – Kansas City, February 2015: