The Unthanks: Last – review

(Rabble Rouser)

The Tyneside family troupe have become flag-bearers for British folk not by chasing electric dreams but by blending their lowing sibling harmonies with neo-classical arrangements. They're on imperious form on this fourth album, mixing the customary antique Geordie ballads with songs by Tom Waits, King Crimson and Jon Redfern, whose "Give Away Your Heart" is a commentary on the Iraq war ("disappointment is everywhere" comes the refrain). The predominant mood is mournful but affecting: "Close the Coalhouse Door", for example, is a spectral farewell to the mining industry. There's a danger the self-confessed "miserable buggers" strike the same chords too often (that Hovis-ad trumpet!), but so far, so canny.


Neil Spencer

The GuardianTramp

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