Album review: The Unthanks - Diversions Vol. 3: Songs From The Shipyards

07:05 09 November 2012

The Unthanks - Songs From The Shipyards

The Unthanks - Songs From The Shipyards

Archant

A sober, heartfelt and unnervingly absorbing record assembled from a film soundtrack project. Lend it your ears!

The Unthanks were approached to write the music for a film of the same name by acclaimed filmmaker Richard Fenwick, charting the last century of industrial tumult in the north east’s Tyneside and Teesside.

As north-east natives they accepted, making this their third ‘side project’ album in 12 months. And what a record.

The first to capture The Unthanks’ five-piece core, SFTS draws on the slim folk songbook of the shipbuilding industry.

Embroidering evocative human narratives with pared-down arrangements lets the sisters’ plaintive vocals shine through, for a gripping set.

The Romantic Tees is the three-part heart of the album, a 10-minute self-penned trio sprinkled with fuzzy archive recordings from the shipyards and towns that depended on them.

The sisters’ father George Unthank’s voice is sampled and looped as he reads poetry over undulating piano and violin, questioning the absurdity of romanticising industrial rivers, a theme that runs through the album.

A reworking of Elvis Costello’s Shipbuilding gives it an eerie, solemn makeover, while Monkey Dung Man paints a horrific picture of industrial disease, asbestosis and the dangers workers exposed themselves to, sometimes unwittingly - ‘What a way to earn your pay, and keep your family fed’ the sisters plaintively sing.

The sign-off, Only Remembered, is a fitting, singularly dignified tribute in the sparingly orchestrated folk song tradition.

An unlikely proposition perhaps, but deserving of your ear.

4 stars

Latest Stories from SNAP.PA

We could do without the wrap coat, jumpsuits and Longchamp bags.

Read more

Disclaimer: some level of imagination will be needed to make this work.

Read more

Justin Bieber? Solange Knowles? Miley Cyrus? James Franco? How will they fare this Christmas?

Read more

Promoted content

We've got a great selection of Secret Santa presents and stocking fillers for under a tenner...  (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Office Secret Santa: it’s a Christmas ritual that everyone dreads, but no-one wants to seem like a Scrooge by saying no. Never fear, London24 is here to make buying gifts for Dave in Accounts simple and stress-free, with a selection of presents for under a tenner

Money saving Christmas gifts to add to your shopping list!

It’s nearly time to go on the hunt for Christmas presents, stuck on what to get for your nearest and dearest? We’ve picked out a selection of great deals to get you started and to help you save some pennies!

Top Stories

Quizzes

It's been a crazy year...

2014 is almost over, and we’re looking over the last 12 months of headlines all misty-eyed.

Read more
Rockin' Santa!

If the answer is yes then test your knowledge of Christmas songs with our quiz.

Read more
Can you name this former Tottenham player? Try our quiz and see if you can get 15 out of 15!

This fun new Tottenham quiz will test even the most devoted Spurs fans’ knowledge...

Read more