What’s in your Granny’s Attic? A stack of old 78s? Your Dad’s Subbuteo? A picture; slowly aging and showing the moral decay of an old lady? Some old rubbish? Or three frighteningly young, obscenely talented folk musicians who look as though they may have taken a wrong turn on their way to Fresher’s Week? Probably not the latter if we’re honest.

That, however, is precisely what this GRANNY'S ATTIC contains. Attacking traditional folk songs with boundless energy and the casual brilliance of youth Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne, George Sansome and Lewis Wood give Downend Folk Club yet another glimpse of the future. And it’s a future you’d certainly want to visit. It’s hard to put in to words just how wonderful a violin, a guitar and a selection of squeeze boxes can sound but these three play with such joy and verve that it’s impossible not to get entirely carried away. Starting with a rollicking broadside featuring Nelson and Trafalgar the 'Wheels of the World' show us what we have in store. Earthy three part harmonies, effortless musicianship and a trawl through the obscure outer reaches of Folk Song.

It’s hard to believe that it was three years ago that Granny’s Attic were nominated for the BBC Young Folk Award. It’s even harder to believe that they didn’t win it.  

Despite the fact that their combined ages are approximately equal to the average age of the audience Granny’s Attic know their trad from their Elbow. The set is littered with ballads and broadsides, collected songs and Morris tunes. There are songs that are hundreds of years old and freshly minted dance tunes. Each one conjuring a particular event or a time long gone but each, just like every good folk tune should, containing a seed of the contemporary.

Take 'What I Saw in my Dream...' for instance. A song of folk whimsy but with words exposing social ills and righteous anger. Sadly some of those 19th century problems don’t seem so very different from our own.

Particularly brilliant were the instrumental tunes. Mostly written by violinist Wood they swirl around beautifully. Taken from the latest album, 'Lazy House/Right Under the Bridge' was so joyous, ridiculously infectious and a total delight. Feet tapped, hands clapped and faces smiled.

The feeling that you’re left with from Granny’s Attic is that these three really mean it. There’s no polite polish, no nod to those that find folk a bit "difficult" and no tired cover of the 60s legends. Quite frankly they are all the better for that.

Before this hard-core folk fest local trio EMBER offered a wonderful set of original songs. Mike Richards sings and plays guitar on thoughtful, sensitive acoustic numbers with Meg Batch’s beautiful violin and Hajnalka Deak’s understated piano weaving them together in to something lovely.  Their new EP, 'Paintings', was heavily plundered but it is clearly packed with excellent songs that you would want to re-visit.

So, Granny’s Attic then? Full of promise, joy and verve. And nothing weird. Or rubbish.

 

Words: Gavin McNamara

Photo: Alan Cole