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Johnny Rock Records JOROCK023

Let’s face it, whatever your political opinions, the past few years have been a bit hectic, to put it mildly. This album was written in response to the May 2015 General Election result, but not released till September 2016, by which time even more had happened, and that gave the band their inspiration for the album title. Perhaps it’s ironic that the track Our Revolution It Will One Day Come has at its heart the slow nature of change!

STFU are Rory Butler, guitar, lead vocals; Steve Fivey, cajon, percussion, vocals; Craig McFadyen, double bass, vocals; Pat McGarvey, banjo, vocals and Katherine Stewart, fiddle, vocals, with guests Adam Bulley, mandolin; Chris Purcell, guitar, vocals; and Jed Milroy, harmonica. The playing is note-perfect and crisply executed, the musical style predominantly bluegrass and Americana, albeit with distinctly Scottish touches, and with some poppier influences here and there. There’s also a great instrumental set written by Katherine and Steve.

The songs draw on a range of old-timey techniques such as a cappella openings and the Phil Ochs / Pete Seeger-inspired “question songs” designed to make you think the answers through for yourself, rather than have them given to you. In a way this might, to some, detract from the message, as there are many who prefer their protest songs to be more overtly in your face and polemic.

The messages are along the right lines, however, and I’m sure that whatever the next changes are that 2017 has in store for us, Southern Tenant Folk Union will be there to challenge the situation.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 117 of The Living Tradition magazine.