England’s coal mining County unearths a diamond
The Ree-Vahs sing in the dialect of North West Durham in North East England, where Andy Loan who everything revolves around, comes from; as do I. This accent is slightly softer than the Geordie twang the region is noted for and also contains words and phrases not used even 10 miles from Stanley so I salute Loan for having the courage to sing how he talks, and write about the things in his day to day life exposing his secrets to a much wider audience.
The album opens with some delightful guitar interplay before Loan sings in his trademark soft Northern drawl on the ‘No One Naas Us Anymore’ (*Naas = Knows) which is a slightly political song about the decline of heavy industry in the Region sung beautifully over a catchy, almost Bluegrass tune.
The title track ‘Geordieland’ comes next and in many other hands would be twee and horrible; but Loan manages to capture the thrill and excitement that visitors, in the shape of Stag and Hen Parties feel when they come to Newcastle city centre for their celebrations. The minutiae in the lyrics is stunning as is the dark story that comes and goes in the middle stanza that will be missed by casual listeners; as it is by the revelers in the song.
Andy Loan’s story telling is exceptional again on ‘Walk With Me To The Spanish City’; which is a short journey many of us have taken from the pubs in the seaside resort of Whitley Bay; in the hope of a kiss and a cuddle in the shadows of the once famous fairground.
The Ree-Vahs! (named after the fabled thieves and vagabonds who inhabited the English/Scottish Border country for hundreds of years) appear to be a musical collective based around singer Loan, and various members add their talents to songs making some, like ‘Love to be Your Lover’ something of an epic love song; but on my favourite song here and one I’ve already forwarded to several friends, ‘Beautiful Girl’ becomes a very commercial folk song and something of a kitchen sink drama; from the point of view of a young man who knows he loves his wife and daughter with all of his heart; but his macho upbringing stops him actually using the words, and it breaks his own heart.
I can’t believe I’d not heard of The Ree-Vahs! before receiving this album; but then again I don’t move in the local Folk circles, preferring mixing with the cool kids in the Americana scene, which may be a mistake in hindsight; so give The Ree-Vahs a try; forget about the dialect, just sit back and have your breath taken away by a great songwriter and a great album.