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.
You may also want to watch:
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 'Proper old Islington boozer' voted best pub by readers
- 2 Kacem Mokrane: Islington man amongst seven charged with 2017 murder
- 3 Trevi Ristorante scoops prize with readers' votes
- 4 Man in Highbury court charged with shooting gun in High Holborn
- 5 Tony Eastlake: Man denies murder of ‘flower man of Islington’
- 6 'Islington drivers – you don't always need to overtake cyclists'
- 7 Islington community charity launches with sunny street party
- 8 Dog Olympix 2021 raises more than £700 for a water fountain in Whittington Park
- 9 Missing teenagers from Dagenham may be in Islington or Haringey
- 10 Covid delays Finsbury Park murder suspect's bail hearing
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.