A great deal has happened since Granny’s Attic released their second album, Off The Land, three years ago. A lot more people have heard of them now and Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne has, rightly, become a solo star. Good for him but is it good for the band? If Wheels Of The World is any guide and if he can balance the two strands of his career, then the answer is yes. Cohen is certainly the dominant force although George Sansome takes lead on four tracks but competing with a melodeon can be hard work. Producer Sean Lakeman has done a sterling job in maintaining the balance without suppressing any of the trio’s power.
Most of the material is traditional and the title track which opens the set is new to me. It surveys the political landscape of the early part of the 19th century and its movers and shakers or “spinners” as the lyric has it. Sounds terribly modern, doesn’t it? The other song I hadn’t heard before, ‘What I Saw In My Dream As I Slept In My Chair’, covers similar ground. Between these two is the classic ‘Ship In Distress’ and the first tune set; a piece from Playford paired with one of Lewis Wood’s own compositions. The same sort of juxtaposition occurs in ‘Riddle’s Hornpipe/The Circus’.
‘Banks Of Green Willow’ has long been a favourite of mine and I’m old enough to remember hearing Shirley Collins sing ‘Gilderoy’ back in the 70s. Before you say anything, yes, Sandra Kerr had it first and Shirley increased the lovers’ ages to a more respectable seventeen. George does a wonderful job of what is, after all, a woman’s song and, needless to say, the lyric has little in common with the real life of the outlaw, Patrick McGregor. ‘The Highwayman’ and ‘Our Captain Cried “All Hands”’ would give the record a rousing finish except that they are separated by the beautiful ‘Fenland’, composed by Lewis.
Wheels Of The World gives me hope for the future of traditional music – it’s about the only hope we have left.
Artists’ website: https://www.grannysattic.org.uk/
‘The Highwayman’ – live: