Most helpful positive review
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful, beautiful, and very Unthanks
on 5 November 2012
I bought the CD after seeing the show, and haven't stopped listening to it since. It is haunting, beautiful, and - more so than the previous 'Diversions' albums - very much in the Unthanks' tradition. They didn't release it until today because they wanted people to see the show with Richard Fenwick's accompanying film before hearing the songs. I was lucky enough to see the show, and it is true, the combination of film and songs is unsurpassable, But if the songs are all you have, they are well worth having in their own right.
The film charts the boom and decline of British shipbuilding, focusing on the Tyne, and the songs that accompany it are a combination of contemporaneous songs (including Elvis Costello's 'Shipbuilding') and a number from Jez Lowe, whom I hadn't heard of before but will be investigating on the strength of this, in particular the sinisterly jolly 'Monkey Dung Man' which charts the malign and lingering effects of the use of asbestos (and like so many blighted lives, ends all too soon).
Rudyard Kipling's poem 'Big Steamers' is transformed by an ethereal tune and Niopha Keegan's air of fierce naivete from a tritely jingoistic poem into a song that raises the hairs on your neck. The one slightly awkward note is struck by Adrian McNally's foray into Steve Reich-style minimalism with 'The Romantic Tees' (which interestingly, most of the sleeve notes are devoted to - it doesn't warrant it). The only other nit I would pick is that while the show opened with an upbeat, optimistic 'Taking on Men', on the CD we only get the sad reprise from the end, which seems a pity.
Those however are only the most minor details - this is an Unthanks album up there with their best - and that's very good indeed.