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Grimdon Records GRICD002 

The abundantly youthful yet enviably mature Granny’s Attic has already chalked up a whole decade, their dynamic “must-see” status never compromised. Now George is the trio’s second member to branch out with a solo album, and it exceeds even the greatest expectations. First to note, it’s resolutely, genuinely solo (apart from Tom Bailey’s double bass on the first track). For, much as I welcome, applaud and appreciate sympathetic instrumentation and imaginative or unusual approaches to traditional song, there’s still so much to be said for unfussy, concentrated back-to-basics unadorned performance, especially where (as here) the standard of musicianship and interpretation is both exceptional and compelling, while Ben Walker’s production fully reflects these qualities.

As a singer, George is naturally expressive and sensitive, with a distinctive presence that nevertheless displays both restraint and true tenderness. His supporting guitar work is precisely that – and yet so much more than that implies, being supremely skilled, stylish, nimble and highly musical. As just one instance, Bonaparte’s Departure For St. Helena sports a lyrical instrumental section that genuinely enhances the song’s progress (as opposed to being a convenient excuse for showy pyrotechnics or merely resting the voice). And as far as choice of material goes, George’s selection is both intelligent and well-considered, always revealing new insights and involving the listener fully in the narrative.

Not for some time have I encountered a no-frills voice-and-guitar offering so consistently rewarding, so intensely satisfying on all counts. George’s album is truly masterly, and it’s one which I can envisage becoming regarded as a benchmark, perhaps even to be invoked in the same breath as the classic Nic Jones or Martin Carthy albums which to this day continue to influence and inspire today’s interpreters of traditional song.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 135 of The Living Tradition magazine