Vibrant trad trio Granny’s Attic are releasing their fourth studio album, The Brickfields, in October this year.
While their previous two releases – 2019’s Wheels Of The World and 2016’s Off The Land – included both songs and tunes, this album consists entirely of instrumentals. As Lewis Wood (Violin) writes, this is a very conscious diversion:
The instrumental side of English traditional music is an absolutely vital part of our music and the wider scene. We feel that it’s sometimes overlooked, so it’s nice to make an album focusing on this side of the band. When we started playing together, instrumental music was very much our focus, so it’s really interesting to see how we’ve evolved as musicians and composers since then.
Lewis, Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne (Anglo Concertina/Melodeon), and George Sansome (Guitar) spent most of 2020 in separate places across the UK (Hampshire, Flintshire, and Yorkshire respectively) without many opportunities to meet up and play music together. Throughout lockdown all three had been writing tunes, many of which feature on this album alongside traditional material. After putting together a list of thirty tunes between them for the project, the band cut this down to the nine sets featured on the album.
Here’s the wonderfully titled Cruds & Cream/Jig from the New Harmony which is available as a download now: https://grannysattic.bandcamp.com/track/cruds-cream-jig-from-new-harmony?fbclid=IwAR0RN8vuD0HY-s96DO915TjCqYgFAk9CzXlRiEKCa1-WZKVBRvGZ32YlGK4
About the Track:
We spend a lot of time looking for old tunes in archives and old books, and this tune set came out of that process.
Cohen came across the first tune, ‘Cruds & Cream’, in The Great Northern Tune Book (edited by Matt Seattle), which is a published version of a huge manuscript that contains nearly 600 tunes, compiled by North Eastern fiddle player William Vickers.
The second tune, ‘Jig From New Harmony’, appears in an 1826 manuscript from New Harmony, in Indiana, which Lewis got via the brilliant Village Music Project (https://www.village-music-project.org.uk/).
It was really hard to be creative in lockdown but eventually we found ourselves writing lots of new music, and coming across some great traditional tunes too. By the autumn we’d started sending snippets of music back and forth to each other. There was a lot of remote collaboration – and a few glitchy Skype rehearsals – but we knew we needed to just get in a room and play together to really get that spark.
After a few in-person rehearsals the band headed to Simpson Street Studios in Thropton, Northumberland, to work with accomplished producer Ian Stephenson (whose production credits include Alistair Anderson, Kathryn Tickell, Rachael McShane, and more). The band were very grateful to receive support from the English Folk Dance and Song Society, in the form of a micro-grant, to help with recording costs. They recorded the album
live, with no overdubs, over 3 days in April 2021. Working ‘live’ was a big part of the process, as George says:
We were really keen to get in a room and make music in real time, and we wanted that pure sound of us three sitting down and playing in a room together. Recording live is one of Ian’s favourite ways to work, so he was a perfect fit. He’s done a stunning job of capturing the excitement and dynamic of us playing together and it really feels like you’re ‘in the room’ listening to us play.
Granny’s Attic will launch The Brickfields (released on Grimdon Records) on 8th October 2021 at Number 8 Theatre, Pershore, with album tour dates in the autumn.
“Great tunes, great energy, great arrangements, great stuff!” – Jon Boden
You can pre-order the album here:https://www.grannysattic.org.uk/product/the-brickfields-album
For further information please visit: https://www.grannysattic.org.uk