The Unthanks are to return to live touring after two years off the road. Sisters Rachel and Becky along with the rich and colourful sound of their eleven-piece ensemble, will be showcasing their forthcoming new album, Sorrows Away, alongside favourites such as Magpie, The King Of Rome and Mount The Air.
Since the release of the technicolour BBC Folk Album of the Year, Mount The Air in 2015, The Unthanks have both scaled up to symphonic levels with Charles Hazelwood and the BBC Proms, and stripped down to the unaccompanied singing they grew up with for Diversions Vol 5.
They’ve written six scarecrow soundtracks for Mackenzie Crook’s beautiful adaptation of Worzel Gummidge, while finding time to interpret the work of female writers including Emily Bronte, Molly Drake and Maxine Peake. But projects and diversions aside, Sorrows Away is the long-anticipated follow-up to Mount The Air, and as the title suggests, promises to be a blues-buster and a step into the light for a band known more for melancholy and well, sorrow!
At the nucleus of a constantly evolving unit is the traditional upbringing of Tyneside sister’s arrangements and writing of composer, pianist, producer and Yorkshireman, Adrian McNally. Descriptions of The Unthanks range variously from “music that asks you to consider everything you know and un-think it”, to “a take on tradition that flips so effortlessly between jazz, classical, ambient and post-rock, it makes any attempt to put a label on them a waste of time”.
Using the traditional music of the North East of England as a starting point, the influence of Miles Davis, Steve Reich, Sufjan Stevens, Robert Wyatt, Antony & The Johnsons, King Crimson and Tom Waits can be heard in the band’s 14 records to date, earning them a Mercury Music Prize nomination and international acclaim along the way.
“It hits you in your soul rather than your head. I love them.” Adrian Edmondson
Folk music can commonly and affectionately be defined as low culture, but The Unthanks aspire to prove that the beauty and truth present in the oral history of the people, is anything but common. Their approach to storytelling makes easy bedfellows of tradition and adventure, direct social commentary and sophisticated harmony, heart-breaking empathy and glacial minimalism, earning them an army of writer and performer admirers including Mackenzie Crook, Maxine Peake, Nick Hornby, Martin Freeman, Elvis Costello, Robert Wyatt, Rosanne Cash, Dawn French, Adrian Edmondson, Stephen Mangan, Colin Firth, Martin Hayes and members of Portishead Radiohead.
“Few of their contemporaries, within both folk music and the wider artistic spectrum, have such a
keenly-honed ability to locate in a song the emotional essence that can, in just a single phrase or
vocal elision, cut one to the quick.” The Independent
Eleven Piece Tour Dates as follows:
13/04 LINCOLN, DRILL HALL
14/04 NORWICH, THE HALLS
15/04 NOTTINGHAM, ALBERT HALL
16/04 LIVERPOOL, PHILHARMONIC HALL
17/04 POOLE, THE LIGHTHOUSE
19/04 BATH, THE FORUM
20/04 EXETER, CORN EXCHANGE
21/04 NORTHAMPTON, ROYAL
22/04 MIDDLESBROUGH, TOWN HALL
23/04 LANCASTER, THE DUKES
24/04 NEWCASTLE, TYNE THEATRE
20/05 NEW MILLS, ART THEATRE
21/05 MANCHESTER, RNCM
22/05 EDINBURGH, THE QUEENS HALL
24/05 BELFAST, CENTRAL CHURCH
25/05 DUBLIN, VICAR STREET
26/05 PONTARDAWE, ARTS CENTRE
27/05 BIRMINGHAM, TOWN HALL
28/05 BEXHILL, DE LA WARR PAVILION
29/05 LONDON, PALLADIUM
31/05 YORK, THE BARBICAN
For further information and details of their 5 piece tour dates later in the year visit: https://www.unthankstour.com/