For their fourth album together, Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne, George Sansome and Lewis Wood have returned to their origins in that The Brickfields is a purely instrumental album. Personally, I find this a bit perverse given that Granny’s Attic includes two of the finest interpreters of traditional song of their generation but the creative muse leads where it will. The chaps haven’t quite produced a ceilidh album, although they could, but something rather more graceful and sometimes quite sedate.
The album opens with the pairing of two traditional tunes, ‘Cruds & Cream’ and ‘Jig From New Harmony’, a cracking tune from Indiana, which gets the set off to a flying start. ‘Odd Thoughts/James’s Maggot’, both from the 18th century, are more suited to the drawing room although the latter is very sprightly and by the end any dancers would be quite out of breath. George wrote ‘Considerate Birders’ and opens it on solo guitar with Lewis sidling in on violin before taking over the lead. Cohen then slips in underneath and then, in his turn, takes over. It’s a gorgeous tune.
‘Rakes Of Kirby’, from Cumberland, is a real country tune and it’s paired with Cohen’s ‘Will Grimdon’s No.2’. George wrote ‘Queen’s Wood’, an old fashioned sounding tune with a modern twist – another one for the drawing room – while Cohen’s ‘Devil’s Arch’ is suitably creepy. Lewis wrote ‘Highfield’s Lament’ in tribute to a demolished pub and paired it with ‘200 Miles South West’ inspired by the strange world of folk festivals. The former is stately without being lugubrious and slips smoothly into the slightly more upbeat second tune.
Cohen’s ‘Boxing Day’ has the feel of a tune that came out of some noodling – if you can noodle on a concertina – and is paired with ‘The Brickfields’, apparently one of the favourite dances of 1783, while the honour of composing the closing track, ‘Watt’s Red’, falls to Lewis. The sleeve notes describe it as “fiendish” but Granny’s Attic make it sound easy. It is the shortest track on the album which may be just as well.
The Brickfields is an album that carries you along delightfully, which not all instrumental sets do. The chaps don’t want to make us think too much but tick all the right boxes.
Artists’ website: www.grannysattic.org.uk
‘Highfield’s Lament/200 Miles South West’ – live: