Speakers Push Air

December 30, 2007, 7:01 pm
Filed under: 2007 Top 20

Authenticity is a fairly bogus concept in music at the best of times, but I do remember the first time I saw Southern Tenant Folk Union, playing at the wonderful Come Down & Meet The Folks club in Islington. They seemed utterly authentic, if a disparate bunch of North London-based country and folk musicians ever could be authentic, playing a kind of country / gospel / bluegrass music. Even the austere, church-ified clothing fitted perfectly. The main singer (although they all take occasional leads and contribute totally wonderful harmonies) even has a kind of upstanding, earnest quality that could see him in a movie of some Faulkner novel, or Wiseblood or something equally southern gothic.

I’ve seen various members in other bands (The Coal Porters spring to mind), but this is something different – a world apart from a lot of the other Camden cowboys you see so often at these gigs (I’m not knocking them, there’s some real talent on that scene). But Southern Tenant Folk Union seem complete somehow, and totally beguiling.

After that first encounter, I managed to miss them until the end of the summer this  year, when we caught them at the very end of a long Electric Picnic festival near Dublin. There were all sorts of other mainstage attractions, but sitting watching STFU in a small tent made to look like a little church hall (bunting and cake and all) was a perfect way to end a long and tiring festival season.

The album is wonderful, short and to the point and just perfectly formed. It’s also probably the most obscure selection in this whole Top 20, so I really hope that somebody is won over by them. To that end, I’m going to post what I think are the two stand-out tracks (it’s a close thing, to be honest – every track on there should convince..)

Southern Tenant Folk Union – Here In The Dock

Southern Tenant Folk Union – A Little Deeper
both from the self-titled debut album (Ugly Nephew Records)

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