Concise 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". If Art rock aspires to elevate rock from entertainment
to an artistic statement, it the could be said that The Unthanks make Art Folk.
Their approach to storytelling that makes easy bedfellows of polar opposites such as
staunch traditionalism and sonic adventure, sophisticated harmony and direct social
commentary, glacial minimalism and heartbreaking empathy, earning them an army of
notable fellow artists and storytellers, including Mackenzie Crook, Maxine Peake, Nick
Hornby, Martin Freeman, Elvis Costello, Robert Wyatt, Rosanne Cash, Dawn French,
Adrian Edmondson, Stephen Mangan and members of Portishead and Radiohead.
Their Spring tour will draw from recent projects and favourites from their fifteen-year
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 Unthanks are capable of such beauty that sometimes I can hardly bear to
listen to them.
There are few times when you discover a band and they stalk immediately to
the heart of everything you love and hold dear.