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

Kendra got a hug from Jake, but the Twittersphere was unimpressed with her antics.

Read more

Their version of Sir Elton John’s Something About The Way You Look saw Only the Young voted off Saturday’s show.

Read more

Claudia Winkleman received a warm welcome and managed to hold off the tears as she returned to presenting Strictly Come Dancing.

Read more

Promotions

Gamucci is a global leader and premier brand of electronic cigarettes

Gamucci has an electronic cigarette tailored for every need! We have a range of both disposable and rechargeable electronic cigarettes suitable for all adult smokers. And for a limited time we’re offering up to 40% off.

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

Try our fiendishly difficult new Arsenal quiz! Picture: PA

This new quiz will test even the most devoted Arsenal fans’ knowledge...

Read more
How well do you know Shoreditch? (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

From ancient Roman burial ground to bearded hipsters Shoreditch has always had a lot going on. Prove you know more about it than anyone else by taking our quiz:

Read more
Can you name these moustaches?

Movember is upon us once again and men across the country are growing moustaches to raise money to battle prostate cancer.

Read more