The Unthanks: Songs from the Shipyards – review

(RabbleRouser)

The Unthanks have filed their soundtrack to Richard Fenwick's documentary about the north-east's shipyards under "Diversions Vol 3", but it proves as arresting as their "proper" albums. It's a stark creation, using little more than piano, violin and voices, but its minimalism lends poignancy to songs and poetry narrating the glory and grime of a vanished era. Mostly it's grime that's recalled; the hellish Black Trade that makes "life a job", while Monkey Dung Man relates the perils of asbestos. Kipling's Big Steamers becomes lament rather than jingoism, Costello's Shipbuilding is skilfully underplayed and, on Fairfield Crane, Rachel Unthank delivers a scene-stealing solo vocal.

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Neil Spencer

The GuardianTramp

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