I made the mistake of playing this for the first time driving to work and, by the end of track three, had tears in my eyes! Not good in fast traffic, but its a joy to listen to none the less.
This is a wonderful collection of songs, some of them actually joyful (Because He Was A Bonny Lad / Where've Yer Bin 'Dick / Betsey Bell and, in darker form, the fragment Not Much Luck In Our House) but most of them sad and profoundly moving in that they deal with life's difficulties and what's needed to address them. But that would go for both the sisters' previous records and doesn't explain why I think this is the best of the three.
To date there's always been a sense that the Unthank sisters and their band of musicians might fall into the standard "folk" trap. The one where the musical arrangements becomes stuck in a certain idea of what "real" folk music should sound like - either the idea of "authentic tradition" (which is for me what kills off so much so-called Celtic folk music) or else the "classical" idea (usually involving a lot of fancy piano playing). This new CD demonstrates that they are too canny for that and, together with Andy McNally, have found ways to use something from both approaches to make something that serves they own particular musical vision - witness the use of brass on Sad February and Nobody Knew She Was There. Above all there's a sense of each song getting the particular musical attention it deserves (rather than what a marketing man thinks will sell it) so that, rather than simply respecting the lyrics, they are brought to their full emotional life for a contemporary audience. Anyone who doubts the relevance of this kind of music should listen to carefully to the title track!
For that reason I suspect that a lot of people may find this hard going at first listen because it simply doesn't fit their idea of what "folk" should be. Please persist, its a great record.