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THE YOUNG'UNS - Strangers

THE YOUNG'UNS - Strangers
Private Label YNGS17

Not, strictly speaking, all that young any more, Teesside's finest voices are still as strong and vibrant as ever. This, their fourth album, shows a significant development in that every track bar one is written by Sean Cooney. The exception is Maggie Holland's A Place Called England which has been put through its paces so often that it now feels like a traditional song. For the rest of the album, Cooney has the range and variety to stop monotony creeping in.

His subject matter is loosely based on themes of exile and making a difference in unfamiliar territory. Some of the heroes he identifies are Ghafoor Hussain, a Teesside granddad who fed migrants across Europe, young bankers on a terror-struck train, and the man who set up what was to be Marks and Spencer in The Hartlepool Pedlar. If I have a personal favourite, it is probably These Hands - the story of Sybil Phoenix, an arrival from British Guyana in 1956. Making her and the subjects of the other songs the centre of their stories is the whole point of the exercise. They could form a themed evening, or they could take their place alongside the Young’uns' largely traditional early repertoire. They belong together, even if they mark a subtle change of direction.

Dave Hadfield

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This album was reviewed in Issue 121 of The Living Tradition magazine.