THE UNTHANKS - Here's The Tender Coming

THE UNTHANKS - Here's The Tender Coming


The third album from the Unthank sisters, though with a revised band name (previously they were called Rachel Unthank and the Winterset) now that Becky has finished with university, this is a little gem. The mixture of songs reflects what one might expect from their North East folk family background, including Annachie Gordon from the singing of Nic Jones, Sad February by Graeme Miles, and the title song which they grew up listening to their Dad sing with The Keelers. And they fly off on some exceptional tangents. Their versions of Anne Briggs's Living By The Water and Ewan MacColl's Nobody Knew She Was There are superb.I had to go back to my Anne Briggs Topic CD to remind myself of the former. There it is, beautifully sung but unassuming. The Unthanks take a more leisurely approach to the tune, sing it with understandably less ornamentation but with perfect harmonies and a beautifully relaxed arrangement by the band's violinist, Niopha Keegan. The arrangements, mainly by Adrian McNally (Rachel's husband, who also plays piano and sundry other instruments on the album) are sometimes perhaps a little too idiosyncratic. Autoharp, brass-band style solo trumpet, Erik Satie-style minimalist piano here and Philip Glass strings there create a wall of sound that could do with a little pointing. But I'm being picky. They are never less than interesting, and fortunately there are always the rich breathy voices of the sisters - whether singing solo or in harmony - to bring a warmth to the proceedings. And the title track is immaculate.

Graham Gurrin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 84 of The Living Tradition magazine.