Album review: The Unthanks - Diversions Vol. 3: Songs From The Shipyards
A sober, heartfelt and unnervingly absorbing record assembled from a film soundtrack project. Lend it your ears!
The Unthanks were approached to write the music for a film of the same name by acclaimed filmmaker Richard Fenwick, charting the last century of industrial tumult in the north east’s Tyneside and Teesside.
As north-east natives they accepted, making this their third ‘side project’ album in 12 months. And what a record.
The first to capture The Unthanks’ five-piece core, SFTS draws on the slim folk songbook of the shipbuilding industry.
Embroidering evocative human narratives with pared-down arrangements lets the sisters’ plaintive vocals shine through, for a gripping set.
The Romantic Tees is the three-part heart of the album, a 10-minute self-penned trio sprinkled with fuzzy archive recordings from the shipyards and towns that depended on them.
The sisters’ father George Unthank’s voice is sampled and looped as he reads poetry over undulating piano and violin, questioning the absurdity of romanticising industrial rivers, a theme that runs through the album.
- 1 'Wrong place, wrong time': Men convicted after fatal mistaken revenge shooting
- 2 Jailed: Members of 'sophisticated' drugs crime gang sentenced
- 3 Covid-19: Hospital admissions and bed occupancy continue to fall
- 4 Islington shisha smuggler sentenced for £230,000 tax fraud
- 5 Call for fuel payment machines in Hackney and Islington
- 6 Cannabis sweets: the drugs danger that put 17 north London schoolgirls in hospital
- 7 Stoke Newington: Pret 'sorry' after staff tell indy café 'we'll steal your customers'
- 8 Pirates: Reggie Yates film shot in Angel gets release
- 9 Boy, 13, arrested after teenager stabbed in Canonbury
- 10 Beloved father choked to death on cauliflower after Highgate Care Home 'neglect'
A reworking of Elvis Costello’s Shipbuilding gives it an eerie, solemn makeover, while Monkey Dung Man paints a horrific picture of industrial disease, asbestosis and the dangers workers exposed themselves to, sometimes unwittingly - ‘What a way to earn your pay, and keep your family fed’ the sisters plaintively sing.
The sign-off, Only Remembered, is a fitting, singularly dignified tribute in the sparingly orchestrated folk song tradition.
An unlikely proposition perhaps, but deserving of your ear.