After their impressive debut, Trig, Tannara could have headed into folk-rock territory – Owen Sinclair played a mean electric guitar. Alternatively, they could have turned back to their roots and with Robbie Greig coming in to replace Cameron Ross on fiddle it seems that was the direction they chose. Although all the tracks on Strands are originals (with a couple of borrowings), the band’s second outing is a more thoughtful affair. Mattie Foulds is still in place as recording engineer and occasional percussionist but Sinclair and Joseph Peach have taken over production duties.
The first track, ‘Smiling’ comprises two tunes ending in a field recording of running water which lead in the first song, ‘The Next Station Is’, which begins with voices discussing something or perhaps nothing. The songwriter and vocalist is Sinclair and the song could have been rocked up but, although there are some interesting sounds bubbling away underneath the song is lead by acoustic guitar, fiddle and accordion. It ends with a big finish without ever getting out of hand.
Peach’s ‘Good Ship’ is dedicated to Sinclair and then comes Becca Skeoch’s first contribution – not delicate harp pieces although her harp is there over the underlying keyboards and drums – but something rather modern with Greig’s fiddle as much to the fore as the harp. There’s just a touch of the grungy sound that they employed on Trig. The second song is ‘Spent Lees’, a melancholy piece again by Sinclair with Peach’s keyboards and lots of strings.
Tannara have succeeded in bringing traditional influences together with modern ideas in a way that doesn’t jar. Traditional sounding tunes pop up playfully among arrangements which are definitely modern without being outré. The final track, ‘Jutland’, with words by Les Sullivan given a very traditional tune by Sinclair, begins with the voice of Danny MacLachlan, a survivor of the battle recorded in a very formal style in 1970. The song is punctuated by the sound of Morse code and ends with Tom Anderson reminiscing about survivors watching film of the battle in their later years. It’s a modern approach while still being respectful to the past and that’s what Tannara do. I applaud them for it.
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‘Spent Lees’ – official video: