The Unthanks - Last
Along with the likes of Seth Lakeman and Bellowhead, Rachel and Becky Unthank find themselves cast as the poster children of the British folk revival. Last, their fourth album, is no departure from the path, more of a varnishing of their exquisitely mournful approach. It's some trick to make the grimmest of subject matter (shattered love, community tragedy) sound so uplifting but by dint of their peerless harmonies and the delicate filigree of the arrangements (piano, gossamer strings, muted percussion, occasional brass), Last is compelling for those with the forbearance to stare into its shadows. Plaudits for the stark take on Alex Glasgow's 'Close the Coalhouse Door' ("Close the coalhouse door lads, there's blood inside...") and a startling reinvention of Tom Waits' rumination on dying 'No-one Knows I'm Gone'. Waits could surely find a match for its maudlin beauty somewhere in his hefty canon but even he would struggle to find anything quite so bleak. It finds a welcome home here.