Artist picture of The Unthanks

The Unthanks

2 539 fans

Artist's top tracks

Oats and Beans and Barley Grow The Unthanks 01:42
The Scarecrow Knows The Unthanks 01:45
The Scarecrow Knows The Unthanks 02:10
Magpie The Unthanks 05:07
Magpie The Unthanks 05:00
Scatterbrook The Unthanks 00:55
Scatterbrook Reprise The Unthanks 00:43
Mount the Air The Unthanks 10:34
The Green Man The Unthanks 01:33
The Flight Of The Curlew The Unthanks 02:17

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The Old News

by The Unthanks


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Drenched in the rich folklore of Northumberland in the north east of England, Rachel Unthank and her younger sister Becky have drawn on the traditional music they grew up with (their father George is a shanty singer) but given it a contemporary twist, which has seen them rise far beyond the folk genre. Both spent much of their childhood at folk clubs and festivals and sang from an early age as well as becoming accomplished clog dancers, eventually taking centre stage themselves at Towersey Festival in 2004.

The success of their debut album 'Cruel Sister' - Mojo's Folk Album of the Year in 2005 - set them off on the road to success, initially as Rachel Unthank & The Winterset, with Jackie Oates on fiddle and Belinda O'Hooley on piano. It helped secure them a major record deal as dark and brooding second album 'The Bairns' - including a haunting cover of Robert Wyatt's 'Sea Song' - captivated a more mainstream audience and was unofficial runner-up in the Mercury Music Prize contest behind Elbow. Jackie Oates left to launch a solo career and was replaced by Anglo-Irish fiddle player Niopha Keegan before the release of third album 'Here's the Tender Coming', by which time they'd amended their name simply to The Unthanks. O'Hooley's departure triggered a band re-organisation sacrificing the all-female status to accommodate Rachel Unthank's husband (and band manager/producer) Adrian McNally on keyboards along with guitarist Chris Price as they toured with a string section and embraced more lavish arrangements.

Their fourth album 'Last' was released in 2011 to enthusiastic reviews. After spending some time on the road, the band released live albums 'The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & The Johnsons', recorded at London's Union Chapel, and 'The Unthanks With Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band' from a concert at Leeds Town Hall. 'Songs from the Shipyards' followed with 'Mount the Air' soon after, with the latter winning the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Best Album. 2017 saw the release of 'The Songs and Poems of Molly Drake' featuring songs written by the mother of singer-songwriter Nick Drake. The album featured Faye MacCalman on clarinet and tenor saxophone and Martin Douglas playing the cymbals.