The Unthanks - Mount The Air
Northumberland's The Unthanks return, four years after the release of Last, with perhaps their most ambitious album yet. Mount The Air is a passionate journey through different musical realms with sisters Rachel and Becky Unthanks' beautiful voices still the compass point to which all paths return. That said, this is very much a group effort, with the sisters sharing songwriting duties with band members Niopha Keegan (fiddle) and Chris Price (bass/guitar) alongside main writer/arranger Adrian McNally.
Such group efforts can sometimes be muddled and confusing, yet the band just about manage to keep it a homogenous whole overall. In addition to the standard Celtic-flavoured tracks ('Madam' and the endearing nostalgia of 'For Dad'), the ten minute title track (with its jazzy trumpet intro) and the gorgeously cinematic 'Died For Love' sit comfortably beside the sad forlorn waltz of 'The Poor Stranger'. There are times when Mount The Air does feels like an elaborately illustrated story book (engrossing yet, at times, hard to follow) but this a first class effort and - more often than not - a thing of true beauty.