Early Cartographers and Who Killed the Cranks?: The Washington, Sheffield

The Washington has been hosting regular weekly live music for a while now, and a fantastic job Rob has been doing down there too.  He is putting together great local line-ups, showcasing varied talent around the city.

First up for me tonight (sadly other commitments meant I missed Ben Webster) were Who Killed the Cranks?.  They are a six-piece folk/roots band from Sheffield who are a lot more country/roots, and less folk than I thought they would be. They clearly seem to be enjoying themselves on stage, and a few technical problems aside, played a very tight set.  Their music is a mix of big country sounds and quiet roots-inspired melodies.

You’ll be hard pressed to ever find all the Early Cartographers in the same room. Tonight, the stars have aligned and Orion is in the ascendant, however sadly only 6/7th of the band are on stage (we discover during the set that Will is departing to Germany for 6 months, so this will be an even rarer event).  They are a melting pot of local musical talent, more a collective than a band. Switching instruments and vocal duties with ease, they make everything seem so fluid. Its this kind of ethos that makes them standout from the crowd. Factor in the shared song-writing duties, and you begin to see why their songs show such diversity, whilst still remaining a variation on a theme.

Tonight they start off with ‘Are You?’ and ‘All Roads Lead to Other Roads’ where male vocals take the lead. Next a new song, ‘SinKing’, which sees Nat Mortimer take over vocal responsibilities.  Its another very impressive song which illustrates how their writing is progressing.  As the set progresses it becomes clear that their songs work best when male and female vocals work in harmony.  It’s a short varied set which never compromises on quality.

The highlight of the night, and also the song that brings their set to a close, is the spellbinding ‘Thread’. As the song ascends to a stirring climax, I’m left reflecting on what was a truly a wonderful evening of song-writing prowess.

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