Powerful voices with a message

The Young ‘Uns- Strangers (released September 2017)

“I rode out on a bright May morning like a hero in a song, / Looking for a place called England, trying to find where I belong.” So starts this light-filled celebration of everyday folk by the celebrated vocal trio The Young ‘Uns, Strangers. By the final line of the album: ‘This town was built by strangers’, the listener knows exactly where this place called England is – it is built by each one of us, in individual acts of kindness and generosity.

Heart-stirring stuff, you may think. The Young ‘Uns successfully dance the edge of sentimentality, always keeping one step ahead with their stories of ordinary folk. Each song addresses an act of heroism, humanity and love by ordinary folk throughout time, showing the ‘strangers’ we pass in the street to be kind, friendly individuals. Putting modern tales in a traditional ballad setting, this album eloquently weaves stories of everyday people and endeavours to show the good in us all. What saved Strangers from sounding like the recording of a motivational seminar was the respect and delicacy with which the Young ‘Uns treated these wide-ranging and powerfully relevant stories. Whether it was singing about the 1936 Battle of Cable Street or the unknown path of a Syrian refugee fleeing his war-torn home across the Aegean Sea in 2015, this trio are careful to lift inject their music with just the right level of familiarity and understanding. It is a dangerous balance – and yet this group manage to pull it off.

“Impressive vocal skills and good storytelling combine on this album to make for engaging listening”

The up and coming trio of Sean Cooney, David Eagle and Michael Hughes are eminently likeable- their distinctive Northern voices drip with informal familiarity and makes one think of the small, warm corner of a pub. The trio are also impressive for their ability to hold the listener’s attention through all through tracks, with only three using musical accompaniment. Their voices have a powerful, earthy quality that seem to hold the listener tight – indeed, this reviewer was pleasantly surprised to find he’d accidentally sat throughout the whole album on first listening.

This album also displays an impressive musical scope. The uplifting, jolly swing of Ghafoor’s Bus, celebrating the humanitarian work of a Tees-side grandfather Ghafoor Hussain feeding migrants across Europe throughout 2015, is immediately juxtaposed by the soft delicate ballad of Be The Man, celebrating the work of a charity founded by Matthew Ogston to fight the religious and cultural homophobia. What makes this even more impressive is that, with the exception of the first track, all songs were written by Sean Cooney. This is indeed a song-writing skill to be reckoned with.

Despite the danger of appearing relentlessly optimistic and cheery and thus, perhaps, appearing shallow in its celebration of everyday heroism, Strangers manages to convey a strong sense of hope and love for one’s fellow man. Impressive vocal skills and good storytelling combine on this album to make for engaging listening – the listener will soon find themselves singing along, thus spreading The Young ‘Uns’ message of love and tolerance even further. And perhaps, after all, that was the main aim of this worthy album.

Visit The Young ‘Uns’ website here

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