Folk music: the traditional song of a particular region or group of people

How nice to listen to a record which lives up to the definition. The genre of “folk music” has in recent years been hijacked by beardy hipster something-or-others from ol’ Camden Town. In the past decade it feels like the only requirement to fit in the genre has been to dress like a Mumford, strum a guitar and sing with an ever-so-gentle lilt in the voice. 

So hooray for groups, or more accurately – trios, like The Young ‘Uns flying the flag for traditional folk music. On tis latest LP, the lads from Stockton-on-Tees have collected 14 songs recounting stories ranging across the spectrum of human experience – from acts of true love and the enduring human spirit to the depths of despair and the anger of injustice.

Across the record, Sean Cooney writes bold, profound and resonant lyrics which showcase real, ordinary heroes, some of whom you will recognise from major news events but others whose story deserves to be told.

The “tiny notes” from which the record takes its title reference the seemingly ordinary stories of people like Andy Airey, Mike Palmer and Tim Owen who walked 300 miles between their homes in Cumbria, Manchester and Norfolk in memory of their daughters who took their own lives (Three Dads Walking). The Dads have raised over £1 million for suicide prevention charity PAPYRUS. And this writer dares you to find a more affecting song this year.

The harmonies between Cooney, Michael Hughes and David Eagle are the bedrock of the group. Whether on fully a capella tracks or on full band offerings, their voices together create a moving and forceful instrument which wraps the listener in a blanket of community.

With their strong songs, spellbinding harmonies and rapid fire humour (Eagle is now also an award-winning stand-up comedian), they appear to have struck a balance between injecting humour which is crucial to the shareability of folk music and genuine empathy.

It is a rarity that a group can use strings with restraint. Here, on songs such as Lyra and Tim Burman, The Young ‘Uns pull off the feat because the songs, like the best of folk music, are rooted in the stories. Instead of the arrangement being the focal point for the listener, it is the stomach churning story of murdered Irish journalist Lyra McKee and the tragic traveller of Pan-Am 93 Tim Burman which dominate our heartstrings.

The award winning trio have garnered critical acclaim on previous records. But on Tiny Notes they have taken their songwriting and delivery to a deeper level of songwriting. These are modern folk tales which resonate closely: a) because of the recency of their subject matter and b) they combine objectivity with passion, wit and a sense of kinship.

Tiny Notes perhaps but enormous feeling.