Consett folk group the Ree-Vahs have recently released their second album Yee-Ha with the Ree-Vahs, a record that’s getting quite a bit of critical acclaim. The album, with a snap of well-known Consett pub The Turf on the cover, features songs based on tales of Consett and north-east life.
The album’s songs, sung unashamedly in a north Durham accent, are mostly about love and loss, but Black Eyed Susan tackles the subject of domestic violence while Grandma’s Song deals with a couple who meet in 1933.
The woman is mistakenly told the man has perished in the War, but then he arrives home “after four months dead”. After “hitting the heights in 75, a triumph herald in the drive” the recession of the 1980s “took their house away, the wind blew hard as knives that day, the coldest winter of their lives, 1985.”
The track Spiderman, meanwhile, uses comic book heroes to represent different forces in the mind of a character who knows his wild lifestyle will land him in trouble, but is unable to stop himself.
The Ree-Vahs describe their sound as “traditional folk music with a modern twist”. In an interview with the Louder than War website, the lead singer and main songwriter Andy Loan said,
“We’re north Durham people so we’re not urban (even though we live in a former steel town) and we thought the music should sound like the hills, the moors and the towns so the stories are based around that. That’s why we’re on buses a lot in the lyrics.”
“It’s also a tribute to our mother Claire and her father Tommy who taught us how to sing.”
Revealing where the band’s name came from, Andy said, “Ree-Vahs were rustlers and drovers who populated the borders of England and Scotland from the 16th century onwards. They used the Drovers’ Road through Durham and Northumberland, sang music and were a micro-community.”
When asked about his lyrics, Andy said, “I enjoy writing lyrics that tell a tale and have a beginning, a middle and an end.”
“Every song is about people and their stories.”
“They are based on real people, but some of the names might have been changed.”
“If I can make people think or laugh when they hear the words, all the better.”
Yee-Ha with the Ree-Vahs recently gained a very positive review from the Rocking Magpie website. This follows on from the praises the band reaped for their debut album Geordieland. Reviews included phrases such as “the minutia in the lyrics is stunning” and “have your breath taken away by a great songwriter”.
Readers of Consett Magazine can sample three of the Ree-Vahs’ songs for free below. More information about the band can be found on their website: www.theree-vahs.co.uk.