We’ve spent the last few days being enchanted by ‘Angel of the Northern Winds’ the debut EP from The Sandrunners. Sometimes everything seems to come together at the right time and deliver astounding results, be it planetary alignment or in a much more down to earth fashion a coming together of some very talented musicians.

‘Sit Back Down’ ushers us into the collection and it’s a tune that’s part Small Faces and Part Randy Newman. It’s got a cheeky attitude to its sound that fits right in with the lyrics as it delivers its laid back message to the listener.

‘Angel of the Northern Wind’ is one of the stand out tracks on the collection. Subversive jazz guitar leads the listener on a journey into the mind and memories of a veteran of WW1. Death here is represented by the angel in the title and the song with its deceptive swing style is quite dark. “A nation of crippled men; what were they fighting for”. There’s beautiful brass in the mix which flows throughout adding a warm melancholy to the song. Listening to this we can imagine the spectre of death haunting no man’s land and we realise that the veteran is also haunted by and is waiting for and in a way longing for the angel to come for him.

‘The World’s Worst Lonely Boy’ is the other highlight of the collection. This could easily been lifted our favourite Who album ‘The Who by Numbers’. Nimble guitar picking reminds of Pete Townsend’s ‘Red white and Blue’ from that record. The opening lines “the noise of the boys on their Lambretta toys punctures the peace of the park” takes us further into Who mythology by making us think of Quadrophenia. There’s even a hint of teenage rebellion in the lines “sinister spinsters in vivid blue rinses converge on the edge of the dark”. The addition of a crescendo of brass lifts the heartbroken singer and promises to free him from heartbreak and self pity through rock and roll. Choral harmonies round out the mix and echo the Rolling Stones classic ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’.

Throughout the EP the musicianship and production is stunning. ‘Goodnight and May Your Dog Go with You’ is a quirky guitar instrumental featuring some very nimble picking. ‘Aint Nobody’ is sublimely beautiful with it’s old rag time feel and closing the EP is a short, yet sweet ode to County Down’s Mountains of Mourne – ‘Between Binian and the Sea’. Rarely do debut releases feature such quality arrangements and songwriting talent as this one.

The Sandrunners are John McLaverty (guitar, vocals) and David McCann (ukulele, guitar, vocals), Ryan Lynch (mandolin) Mark Johnston (drums, percussion), Peter Doherty (double bass), and Gary Arnold (accordion). ‘Angel of the Northern Wind’ can be purchased online for the price of pint and we think its well worth it.