Album Review – Folk London

Photo: Mars West

Thank you to Adrian Jones for his review of my new album in Folk London magazine. You can get hold of the latest issue here. It’s a good read, not just for people who live in the London area but also if you’re after album reviews and (online) gig listings – and in this month’s edition, some lockdown-themed adaptations of folk songs.

Here’s the full review:

George Sansome
George Sansome
Grimdon Records GRICD002

George has just celebrated a decade as guitarist with the irrepressible trio Granny’s Attic. Still in his early 20s, here he offers his first album, a collection of 10 carefully chosen traditional songs.

Other than a low double-bass growl added to the opening, all tracks are George playing and singing solo. His guitar is skilful, and it can seem at times there are more musicians in the mix. Sometimes it drives and dances with the vocals, as in the story of pirate evasion on The Bold Princess Royal, or of the drink-preferring husband of Jovial Cutler. Other times he creates a sustained ringing tonality that lapped around my ears on tracks like Bonaparte’s Departure For St Helena and The Rebel Soldier (check out the exquisite opening harp-like tones).

His guitar work is at its most beautiful on Bold Fisherman, the reflective centre of this release, which has understandably been chosen as the album’s single. All the other stories involve human plight of some kind; there is a spiritual surrendering, “a chance meeting leading to a deeper connection”. Repeated listening will pull you down to its inner meaning.

His vocal tone is an assured tenor, and he has a gentleness that lets him sing both for male and female protagonists. He conveys the proud defiance of Polly Parker over her poverty and prospects in Collier Lass (which coincidentally resonates with our Covid praise for essential workers: “if it weren’t for our labour, in wretched starvation your days you would pass”). He becomes the girl resigned to a single life in When Shall I Get Married?, and the repentant criminal who stole for love aching to escape the penal colony in Australia. At all times the songs are rhythmic and alive, bouncing over changes in meter if needed to keep the music flowing.

The pared-back, uncluttered and clean production from the Radio 2 Folk award-winning producer Ben Walker brings George right into the room, performing just for you. The result is a lovely assembly of engaging ballads, mainly intimate, sometimes rousing, of past characters brought back to life by George’s fine blend of storytelling with quality musicianship.

Adrian Jones

© Adrian Jones/Folk London

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