Diversions Vol 2. constitutes perhaps the most daring and accomplished of musical adventures to date for The Unthanks Their paradoxical marriage of staunch traditionalism and sonic adventure continues in the shape of brand new collaboration with Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band, known as the best public subscription band in the world, celebrating their second successive year as National Champions of Great Britain.
The record is the culmination of a project that began as a commission from Brass: Durham International Festival, with Unthanks pianist, composer and producer Adrian McNally writing The Father’s Suite: a four movement piece in celebration of Rachel Unthank and McNally’s first child, born four weeks before the sold-out, premiere in Durham Cathedral.
The record kicks off with the televised performance of King of Rome that was so rapturously received at the BBC Folk Awards earlier this year.
The record also features a heartbreaking rendition of Trimdon Grange Explosion by Rachel Unthank, debut lead vocal performance by Niopha Keegan (Lagan Love) and Chris Price (his tongue in cheek Queen of Hearts, dubbed Croon of Hearts!) and re-workings of previous Unthanks material, including Fareweel Regality, Felton Lonnin, Blue Bleezing Blind Drunk Gan to the Kye and Newcastle Lullaby.
The cover illustration is by Becky Unthank (who sings King of Rome) and depicts the character Charlie from the song.
While all the tracks on this record were recorded live in concert halls, cathedrals and town halls; some in front of an audience and some not; it should not be regarded as a ‘live album’, in the lowly, lesser sense of the term. A live album would normally contain pieces that an artist has recorded more definitive studio versions of previously. That is not the case here. The scale of a brass band and the practicalities of singing with them almost necessitates live performance anyway, so why not in front of an audience? For better or worse, these are the definitive versions!
Diversions Vol 2. follows on from Vol. 1 (The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & The Johnsons) released in Dec 2011, and by the Autumn, Vol 3. there will be Vol. 3 – Songs from the Shipyards – a album of songs from the live soundtrack that The Unthanks perform to a new film about our shipbuilding past, touring in October. That will be 3 albums in a year from The Unthanks, or 4 in 18 months, counting their studio album ‘Last’.
Artist web link and tour dates: http://www.the-unthanks.com/tour-dates