This album has been a long time coming, but it is well worth the wait.
The first proper album from the Danny Green ensemble ('Laish' means 'tribe of Dan') on the consistently superb Willkommen Collective, home to the Leisure Society, The Miserable Rich, Climbers, Sons of Noel and Adrian etc, is a modest but quietly stunning affair, that deserves to make this hard-touring band a national treasure.
Drawing on traditional folk roots, Danny Green has produced a charming album of 'warmth and humility', as one of the songs puts it, that takes the genre's focus on family and working life and then adds something special. Humour is a key facet of Green's work, such as in a song referencing Warrington shopping centre ('We speak the mantra') and others in which you can hear the laughter in the studio, all wrapped up in some of the best songs you're likely to hear all year. Modesty is also a key word, and perhaps it's telling that Danny chose a photograph for the cover in which his face is the only one that can't be seen.
All of the songs are borne of direct lived experience, written for Dan's girlfriend or friends, like the closing song 'A happy accident' - perhaps the only song ever written about a condom with a hole in it, which sounds comical which it is and it isn't. The song, like many on the album, reminds me of the old northern bands like Lindisfarne or Alan Price, rootsy and poppy at one and the same time. Not modern, just timeless.
The song 'warmth and humility' is also rooted in the personal through its grounded lyrics "I am always working, friends will never see me" and then rises above the mundane to become a paene to the frustrations of having to work for a living rather than spend time with the people and things (making music) we love. Like the best folk music, it's not introspective but a song for all humanity.
One of my favourite songs is the beautiful song 'In the morning', where Danny opines "I'm a serious man, but you can make my voice change" and proceeds to sing about love with a refreshing and direct honesty. It's almost a blues in its structure, but inverted to become a positive paean to someone special, rather than a grimace about life, or drink-sodden sadness. One of the finest love songs I think I've heard, and much loved since it first emerged on the Willkommen Collective sampler.
The band are pretty tight too, with a jaunty scrappy messy (but somehow all-together) sound that bears witness to time spent travelling around the country as a tightly knit group playing an endless string of small venues. Danny leads the band on guitar and vocals, and a talented musician in his own right being the regular drummer with the Sons of Noel and Adrian. Laish are supplemented by Ben Gregory and Mike Miles, bass and drums from Curly Hair respectively, along with the superb violin of Jo Burke and vocals from Cathy Cardin (of Sons of Noel and Adrian). Live, they are all warmth and humility, of course. Together on record they create a wonderful sound.
Altogether, a classic album. Unmissable.
Hear an mp3 of track 4 belowOrder the album direct from Willkommen hereAnd befriend Laish on myspace