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The Young'UnsThe Young'Uns
Album: Strangers
Label: Hereteu
Tracks: 10

The Young'Uns have come a long way since they first performed at Stockton Folk Club, with plenty of richly-deserved Folk awards along the way. They've won many fans with their live shows, combining musicality with humour.

This is their fourth album, three years after they gave up their day jobs, and although it features only 10 tracks, it is packed with many gems from the pen of one of England's finest songwriters, Sean Cooney.

Sean continues to develop in leaps and bounds, such is the quality to be found here it is truly difficult to pick one track out from the rest.

His songs have always championed the human spirit and turned the spotlight on injustice and on Strangers his topics include the stories of those who have crossed the seas to Britain, soldiers who have left these shores to the European warfields, and even one of the founders of Marks and Spencer's!

The Young'Uns have cornered the market when it comes to three-part harmonies and on this album, they are on fire.

Opening with a cover of Maggie Holland's A Place Called England, the lads are in fine voice. They are helped along the way by the voices of the Aldeburgh Young Musicians and some standout playing from ex-Bellowhead musician Rachael McShane (cello and fiddle) and Cumbawamba's Jude Abbott (fugelhorn) on the brilliant Be The Man - a song guaranteed to become a firm favourite. It was inspired by the moving story of Matthew Ogston and his fiancé Nazim Mahmood.

The longest track is a song I first heard on their last tour - Dark Water - is the heart-wrenching tale of one refugee's harrowing escape from Syria. The lyrical poetry is bolstered by the Aldeburgh Young Musicians, and some inspired fiddle, in a spine-chilling production that really does this masterful song justice.

Other songs gather their inspiration from bravery on a train carriage - Carriage 12, celebrating a Teesside man's mission to feed refugees - Ghafoor's Bus, and feeding soldiers in Spain - Bob Cooney's Miracle.

The slow and moving Lapwings was featured on BBC Springwatch and is a poignant tale of war, These Hands tells the story of Sybil Phoenix who came to England from British Guiana in 1956 and became the first black woman to be awarded the MBE. The Hartlepool Pedlar reveals origins of one of the UK's leading stores, Marks & Spencer.

A triumphant collection of songs that will only enhance The Young'Uns reputation. Highly recommended.

John Knighton