O U T S I D E L E F T   stay i n d e p e n d e n t

30 from 17: #25 - The Unthanks

Jason continues his countdown of the years most meaningful...

get the weekly Outsideleft newsletter
by Jason Lewis, UK Music Editor for outsideleft.com
originally published: December, 2017
The highlight of the album is the anguished Set Me Free
by Jason Lewis, UK Music Editor for outsideleft.com
originally published: December, 2017
The highlight of the album is the anguished Set Me Free

#25
The Unthanks
Diversions, Volume 4: The Songs and Poems of Molly Drake
(Rabble Rouser)


Molly Drake never released any of songs or poems during her own lifetime. However, as the legacy of her son Nick has grown, scratchy recordings that she made on home equipment in the 1950's have been unearthed and unpublished poetry that she wrote has also seen the light of day.  She is now regarded as a fascinating 'missing link' ( to quote Nick's former producer Joe Boyd), in his story. 

And now The Unthanks have decided to devote an entire album to Molly's work.  Becky and Rachel's pronounced Tyneside harmonies combine with Adrian McNally's subtle piano playing  and sympathetic arrangements to create a portrait of a reflective and melancholy character. 

There's an assumption that, as the writer of tender and reflective numbers such as the opener What Can a Song Do To You, that Molly would have been an influence on young Nick.  However, this is not merely an exercise in connecting the dots,  these songs and poems are beautiful in their own right.   

Throughout the album several of Molly's poems are read by her daughter, the actress Gabrielle Drake.  The aching 'Martha' is a poignant contemplation on mortality, whilst the remarkable The Shell' contemplates casing we need to have to survive the 'outer desolation' of the world around us. 

The highlight of the album is the anguished Set Me Free, a song of needing to escape from unrequited love.   As with many of The Unthanks finest songs, it features  exquisite and emotional fiddle playing by Niopha Keegan.

'The Songs and Poems of Molly Drake' is a compelling album and possibly one of The Unthanks finest achievements to date.   It is full of emotional longing and wise reflections, an album whose subtle power lingers after every listen.

View/Listen to the entire playlist on YouTube here

 

see more stories from outsideleft's Music archive »»

Jason Lewis
UK Music Editor

Jason Lewis is a Birmingham based music, movie and arts obsessive. Jason's encyclopedic knowledge of 80s/90s Arts films is a debt to his embedded status in the Triangle Arts Centre trenches back then.

years end
years end
Jason Lewis' 30 LPs of note for 2018
  1. Le Kov - Gwenno
  2. Sharing Waves/Shared.Waves - Cool Maritime
  3. Resistance is Futile - Manic Street Preachers
  4. 1,2, Kung Fu - Boy Azooga
  5. Endless Scroll - BODEGA
  6. Hunter - Anna Calvi
  7. Television Themes - Matt Berry
  8. Music for Installations - Brian Eno
  9. The Beatles (AKA The White Album), Super Deluxe Version - The Beatles
  10. Sunshine (Remixed) - Hector Plimmer
  11. Fenfo - Fatoumata Diawara
  12. Songs of Praise - Shame
  13. Goat Girl - Goat Girl
  14. Singularity - Jon Hopkins
  15. ?????????????????????????
  16. ?????????????????????????
  17. ?????????????????????????
  18. ?????????????????????????
  19. ?????????????????????????
  20. ?????????????????????????
  21. ?????????????????????????
  22. ?????????????????????????
  23. ?????????????????????????
  24. ?????????????????????????
  25. ?????????????????????????
  26. ?????????????????????????
  27. ?????????????????????????
  28. ?????????????????????????
  29. ?????????????????????????
  30. ?????????????????????????

more stories you really could read...


thumb through the ancient archives:

search for something you might like...


sign up for the outsideleft weekly. a selection of new and archived stories every week. Or less.

View previous campaigns.

Simon Says, Ha!
Meave Haughey visits the Ledbury Poetry Festival and takes a particular shine to Simon Armitage
experiencing the Arctic Monkeys in 40 minutes...
I'll skip to the chase - the Arctic Monkeys are fantastic live.
Outsider of the Week: Kelly G.
The Broad Majestic Shannon
Shannon Hurley writes some of the most widely appealing and intelligent pop music alive today
Alys in the Cities
Graham Parker's ex-sax player told me a rumor about a Francis Alys exhbition in London
Thierry Barthole, Philippe Attie: Tandem absolue
13eme Salon annuel de L'ARC
Some of our favorite things...