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Sorrows Away

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The Sandgate Dandling Song is a North East standard from the perspective of a boatman’s wife. She’s bobbing her child on her knee and singing sweetly to comfort it yet thinking all the while of her husband’s failings and propensity for drunken violence. It’s sung tenderly and with palpable love by Rachel Unthank, giving the listener a sense of conflicted feelings on the part of the narrator, despite the abuse. The Unthanks have added a verse, written and sung by Adrian McNally (who doesn’t appear in promo shots) from the perspective of the boatman, in which he sounds soaked with regret and determined to change, to not follow in his father’s footsteps, although it feels too late.

Alex Gallacher (11 November 2014). "The Unthanks– New Album & Video: Mount The Air". Folk Radio UK . Retrieved 11 January 2015.AM: In this instance, I was the one thinking, “Let’s just do what we want with it”. And Rachel, having sung it a long time, was more cautious. But in another instance, it’ll be another one of us questioning whether that’s the right thing to do. That’s the good thing about being in a band – having a lot of disparate influences and attitudes. We’re always in conflict creatively. Jude Rogers (25 March 2020). "Ongoing Adventures: Rachel Unthank's Favourite Albums". The Quietus . Retrieved 26 March 2020. The Unthanks' 'Archive Treasures' to be released 11 December" (Press release). Prescription PR. 1 December 2015 . Retrieved 7 December 2015. Essential Signs Paul Hartnoll, Full Time Hobby and Peacefrog" (Press release). Name PR. 2 December 2014 . Retrieved 9 March 2015. Joe Breen (26 February 2015). "The Unthanks: Mount The Air Album Review". The Irish Times . Retrieved 4 April 2015.

a b Robin Denselow (24 August 2007). "Rachel Unthank and the Winterset, The Bairns". The Guardian . Retrieved 13 March 2015. Reinhard Zierke (1 May 2017). "A Tree Song / Oak, Ash and Thorn". Mainly Norfolk: English Folk and Other Good Music . Retrieved 3 January 2018. A trilogy of albums with a poetic theme – Part One: Lillian Bilocca; Part Two: World War One; Part Three: Emily Brontë Vol. 5 in the Unthanks' Diversions series. Also available in a "Special film edition" which includes a film by Ainslie Henderson, As We Go, about The Unthanks' life on the road Series 3 of the BBC Four TV series Detectorists was inspired by Dave Dodds' song "Magpie", as performed by the Unthanks on their album Mount the Air, and the song was played in the first episode of the series. [61]If there was such a thing still as having a favourite band like in the old days, I’d say they were my favourite band.” I was thinking in particular of Great Silkie of Sule Skerry and other moments in the album which become explosive and triumphant. It also happens on Old News and on Sorrows Away. Reinhard Zierke (21 February 2013). "Harbour of Songs". Mainly Norfolk: English Folk and Other Good Music . Retrieved 9 March 2015.

Neil Spencer (28 October 2012). "The Unthanks: Songs from the Shipyards– review". The Observer . Retrieved 10 November 2012. The Unthanks– Mount the Air: watch their new video". The Guardian. 11 November 2014 . Retrieved 11 January 2015. McNally goes on to explain some of the modus operandi behind his arrangements, explaining that “on the surface, a lot of folk music – because it comes from those unaccompanied voices -might appear to be simplistic, but often the message in them is anything but. So a lot of folk songs are traditionally performed in a very throwaway style, in a jolly, high tempo, when the song might actually be about something like being pressed to war. So when we add layers musically, it’s also to add more layers in terms of the storytelling.”Guardian Books podcast : Royalty and the English folk song. The Guardian (podcast). 1 June 2012 . Retrieved 2 November 2015. a b Mark Savage (27 April 2016). "The Unthanks win best album at Folk Awards". BBC News . Retrieved 29 April 2016. might be political and social, and in a much more subtle way than, you know, banging on about a current issue. The world’s changed a lot since Mount The Air. Do you look to reflect that in your songs, like The Old News, for instance? It ties in with the whole philosophy of the folk tradition, trying to learn from our past, from the stories of our ancestors. Trying to reflect and make our lives better today.

a b c Kidman, David (27 April 2020). "The Untnanks – Diversions Vol. 5: Live and Unaccompanied". Folk Radio UK . Retrieved 28 April 2021. Anthony Thornton (16 March 2011). "Album Review: The Unthanks– Last (Rabble Rouser)". NME . Retrieved 21 November 2015. One of the really impressive things about The Unthanks is their flexibility as a unit – they can perform or tour as the full 11-piece band, a core five-piece, or just an acapella vocal trio. McNally admits that this is driven by pragmatism as much as art. “You want to be able to do what you want to all the time but it doesn’t make any financial sense having such a big band, it’s crippling. And we like to tour as a five because we don’t like saying no! We can do as we please, it’s enjoyable to be able to play in different forms and spaces, both in more evolved and then more intimate ways.” Reinhard Zierke (2 March 2013). "Melodeon Crimes". Mainly Norfolk: English Folk and Other Good Music . Retrieved 10 March 2015. It eventually makes way for “The Sandgate Dandling Song”. Having been an obsession of McNally’s for some time now, ever since hearing ex-wife Rachel sing it when they first met, it tells the conflicted story of the wife of a violent North East keelman and the repercussions of domestic abuse on their son. Borrowing a tune from Eastern Europe, learned from a Polish accordion player, McNally steps up to the mic and inserts the song with a fresh verse, told from the father’s disturbed viewpoint. It’s a masterpiece of nuanced drama, burnished with mournful strings and lonely brass. Both opening songs already feel like significant events in the Unthanks canon, taking their place alongside the likes of “Mount The Air” or “Here’s The Tender Coming”.

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 fourteen records to date, earning them a Mercury Music Prize nomination and international acclaim along the way. a b Martin Chilton (28 April 2016). "The Unthanks win album of the year at 2016 BBC folk awards". The Daily Telegraph . Retrieved 29 April 2016. Jeff Brown (23 February 2011). "The Unthanks celebrate Tyneside shipbuilding heritage". BBC Local/Tyne . Retrieved 1 November 2015.

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