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4.6 out of 5 stars86
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 25 September 2009
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.
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on 28 July 2010
This made it's way onto my Xmas list after I heard "Lucky Gilchrist" on 6 Music, (oh 6 Music, where would I be without you). Wasn't quite sure whether I liked it when I heard the rest of the album, but it's a grower, and after a couple more listens it is now firmly a family favourite. My 9 year old son loves "Here's the Tender Coming" and "The Testimony of Patience Kershaw" and these beautiful songs are an education for him, really bringing these areas of history alive. My wife and I went to see their recent tour and since then this CD has been a permanent fixture in the car for her commute to work.
If you have an open mind musically then treat yourself to this. You won't regret it. We haven't.
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The British folk scene is incredibly strong at the moment. We have the populist freneticism of Mumford and Sons, the eclectic and adsorbing Bellowhead and luminaries such as Seth Lakeman and Spiers and Boden making a strong impression with their traditional stylings. Much as I love these artists work, I would argue that some of the most sublime records coming out at the moment hail from the North of England and Scotland, from the likes of Roddy Woomble and John McCusker. This album form Northumbrian band the Unthanks is almost, but not quite up there on the same level. It has potential, but I feel it hasn't been achieved.

The core of the album is the absolutely sublime vocal talents of the Unthanks sisters. Make no mistake, their voices and harmonies are beautiful, soaring or achingly tender where necessary. They use these magnificent instruments to give us a set of folk tunes, some traditional, some original. The originals are perhaps the most interesting, giving us folky ballads that speak of modern day stories, and show that new and interesting material is still being written in the form, and that it can still be relevant to today's audience.

The let down for the album is the backing and the production. There is just too much going on in the backing. The music only distracts from the voices, at worst it overpowers them. And the production is just too polished. There is none of the raw, impassioned edge that allows the music to rip into your heart and soul.

In short, there is a fine underlying centre to the album, but it is smothered in overproduction that prevents any real connection with the songs. So much potential, but not fully realised. 3 stars only.
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VINE VOICEon 27 September 2009
I admit I was concerned.
Possibly the greatest musical awakening of my life was down to Rachel Unthank and the Winterset. "The Bairns" was so utterly and triumphantly eye-opening that I was anticipating any new release with equal amounts of excitement and trepidation.

It seems there is no need to worry. The creative wellspring of the Unthanks obviously runs pretty deep. They have produced another finely balanced collection of songs which both delight and inspire. Even though they now have more members and instruments contributing to the overall sound these songs still exhibit the sparse beauty of arrangement which I loved so much in "The Bairns".
Yet again Becky's voice raises the hairs on the back of my neck with alarming regularity but now this can also be triggered by the occasional introduction of a measured and sometimes superbly dischordant brass section lazily emerging from the rich soundscape and then sinking gently back behind the voices and strings.

All 13 tracks exude their own distinct charm mixing the traditional with the slightly more contemporary but none seem out of place. Tunes range between the joyous to the terribly poignant with "The Testimony of Patience Kershaw" and "Nobody Knew She Was There" being particularly affecting.
The band has been quoted as saying they didn't want to make another "Bairns" and they certainly haven't. They've created, at bare minimum, an equal, albeit a close relation, one with the same heart and soul intact which was something I foolishly doubted would ever be possible. The more I listen and the further I fall under its spell I'm beginning to think that they have in fact surpassed the impossibly high standard already set.

This is a fantastic album, an absolute testament to "The Unthanks" various talents and overall creative genius. "At First She Starts" is shaping up to be the standout track for me so far.
I'm also glad, listening to Betsy Bell, to discover that we can still look forward to some more clog-dancing at the live shows.
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on 14 July 2010
I went to see the Unthanks in Dublin when they played to packed out house in April, their performance had me mesmerised and I went home thinking I must get my hands on their album. The album 'Heres the tender coming' is a masterpiece and gets better with each track. The Unthanks sisters have beautiful voices and will certainly go a long way! Highly recommend it!
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on 10 February 2011
Wonderful. A recording I wish I'd been listening to every week since its release.

Its predecessor 'The Bairns', whilst deserving every accolade heaped upon it, was up there with 'Nebraska' as music to slit your wrists to. Maybe it does have some jolly bits but the paramedics usually turn it off before I get to them and anyway I've lost consciousness by then. There's only so much harrowing a chap can take.

This, on the other hand, whilst containing tracks that are deeply moving ("The Ballad of Patience Kershaw", "Here's the Tender Coming", not least because of their roots in historical truth) feels like a much more rounded emotional experience. If you download one track - and I'd urge you to download them all - then make it "Annachie Gordon". Ethereal, yet with a narrative made believable by the gentle yet urgent and passionate assurance of its delivery with astonishing tone and harmonies. Folk music, yes, and drawing deeply on tradition but utterly contemporary and quite unlike anything else.
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on 8 May 2010
In fact it's difficult to find words to express the depth of feeling and joy that this recording brings (to say nothing of how wonderful and fun they are live); there are no imaginary villages here, this is based on real feelings (such the loss of a friend) and images inspired by a real sense of place; a modern landmark as lasting it its own way as liege and leaf was in its time.
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on 20 November 2009
With the praise and awards they got for 'The Bairns' it would not have been surprising if 'Here's the Tender Coming' had been a bit of a disappointment. Instead the Unthanks have produced what is, in my opinion, one of the finest folk albums of all time. This massive claim needs some justification. I would base it on the sophistication and subtlty of the arrangements added to the Unthanks outstanding voices and musicianship. They appear to have drawn widely in their inspirational arrangements not least from contemporary composers. The piano/percussion on 'Annachie Gordon' could be a Steve Reich piece; the introduction to 'Lucky Gilchrist' is reminiscent of Michael Nyman and the one to 'The Testimony of Patience Kershaw' more like Philip Glass. Surely this will become a classic, and influential, release.
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on 30 March 2010
I admit to being confused by the success of 'The Bairns', a very uncompromising, uneasy and inaccessible collection of songs and music. As a resuult I approached 'Heres The Tender Coming' with some trepidation. The album brings Becky's fractured and soulful voice much more to the fore, try 'At First She Starts' and the two sisters harmonise to much greater effect particularly on the title track. The band has moved on in terms of personnel and evolved musically into a wider range of styles and complements Rachel and Beckys confident approach. Instant classic.
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on 24 November 2009
we caught the Unthanks on Jools Holland and they took our breath away!!Although we live in Newcastle we don't listen to local songs and we would not pick folk music as our first choice of music.That said, this music is the most gorgeous soulful music ,music that actually brought tears to my eyes! This album has reminded us to explore every type of music and the joy the Unthanks bring to the music is so natural that it has brought genuine joy to us!!
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