Commoners Choir, Untied Kingdom

IssueJune 2020 - July 2020
Review by Penny Stone

Describing itself as a ‘wondering-about-the-state-of-the-nation album’, this CD does more than just wonder.

Untied Kingdom poses questions to us all, while offering a strong sense of community and camaraderie with which to explore them.

The album opens with the sound of voices arriving to sing together; background chat that makes you feel that you have arrived in the room and are part of it.

Every song has the beautiful, strong Yorkshire voice you would expect to hear, while striding through notions of past, present and future. Echoes of songs from all around the world ring out between each track, reinforcing the internationalist perspective that is so important to us living on these islands just now.

Our radical history is threaded through songs such as ‘We Are The Descendants’ which references change-makers from the Stonewall rioters to suffragettes, and from Cable Street fighters to the Diggers.

All through the album, we connect with working people’s history whether through the sounds of mills and the movements of people, or through hearing the names and stories of local heroes.

Touching on poverty past in ‘George Orwell Joins the Commoners On The Road To Wigan Pier’, and poverty present in ‘Come On In From The Cold’, we are guided through the connections between time and place.

Truthful, but never unnecessarily bleak, Untied Kingdom leaves you with a sense of community connection, both local and international, as well as a connection to our historical comrades of many movements.

It also leaves you with a sense of many questions we need to keep asking, action to be taken, and hope that another world is possible – as long we continue to refuse to accept the injustices surrounding us all.

When you open Untied Kingdom, as well as a CD and an inlay with full song lyrics included, you’ll find a Commoners badge and a sticker reminding you that we’ve more in common than divides us. You’ll also find a wee packet of sunflower seeds to sow.

Seeds of hope: a beautiful thought that connects us again as listeners to this community of singers and activists, as we all grow our sunflowers, cheering our neighbours from wherever we stand.