DIVERSIONS 5 (Live and Unaccompanied)
The Human Voice Has Hardly Ever Sounded Finer.
I can still remember the first time I ever saw The Unthanks. It was at the Evolution Festival in Newcastle and a) it was bloody cold for a Summer’s Day and b) they were having ‘sound problems’; so (and this is a life lesson for many other musicians); the girls did an impromptu Clog Dance, in their Winter’s coats to keep warm while entertaining the crowd!
Riverdance has nowt on these lasses.
Had they come from anywhere else in the UK I dare say I’d not have listened to another note of their music; as it’s not normally ‘my cup of tea’; but as they are proud flag-bearers for my region; I own a couple of their previous albums; and their version of ‘the Miners Hymn’ Gresford has to be heard to be believed.
Which brings me to this Album; which is exactly what it says on the Cover; Becky Unthank, Rachel Unthank and Niopha Keegan singing LIVE and UNACCOMPANIED, recorded over a few nights at various venues across the UK.
The recording is so clear you actually hear the girls breathing before gliding into the splendiferous One By One, which in other less talented hands could sound soporific or even maudlin; but The Unthanks capture a particular type of magic that carries on throughout the rest of their songs.
Because of the way their voices unnaturally blend together the trio have recorded alongside Folk Rock ensembles, simple piano accompanists and more recently a full on orchestra; but nothing will prepare you for the sheer delights of their voices on the simple constructions of Bread & Roses, Bees or I’m Weary of Lying Alone….. honestly; they are all spine tingling.
They also dip back into their Geordie Roots for Geordie Wedding Set; on which the local dialect never sounded prettier; and the Gothic Guard Yer Men Weel too.
While this is Traditional English Folk music of the finest hue; the girls are as Contemporary as it’s possible; bringing their very own joie de vivre to Bread and Roses, Farewell Shanty; on which the audience harmonise too; and most noticeably their adaptation of fellow Geordie and eccentric miserabilist Richard Dawson’s epic We Picked Apples in The Graveyard Freshly Mowed; which is very, very special indeed.
For my Favourite Track I’m going for Magpie; the Traditional song I remember from my schooldays; brought up to date and becomes something of a Power Ballad that will take your breath away.
Never standing still, this release from The Unthanks comes alongside a fabulous film featuring concert highlights, behind the scenes footage, family life and special performances in found spaces, inside and outdoor, during the tour.
Released March 20th 2020