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Monday 09 January 2017

How Wild The Wind Blows: The Unthanks Play The Songs Of Molly Drake @ Brighton Old Market

A wistful mother in the 1950s makes some simple home recordings in her family sitting room. Little could she have known that decades later, her son would become one of the most poetic and influential songwriters ever, or that more than sixty years later, the dust would be blown off her own songs. 

On the surface, the 2013 release of Molly Drake's work could easily have been perceived as just a curious footnote and jigsaw piece in explaining the enormous talent of Nick Drake. 

In the eyes of The Unthanks however, and increasingly amongst others, Molly's work is extraordinary enough to rank alongside and independently of her brilliant son.

With encouragement from the Drake musical estate and the full blessing and enthusiasm of celebrated actress Gabrielle Drake (Molly's daughter and Nick's sister) The Unthanks will treat the challenge with the same love and diligence for their subject as they did when reinterpreting the work of Robert Wyatt and Antony & The Johnson's on Diversions Vol 1.

Actor Martin Freeman has joined The Unthanks' list of notable admirers:

"All I can say about The Unthanks is that they make my heart beat faster, or smile a lot, or cry. 

"They mean it. And not in some dreary 'authentic' way that feels like a penance for the listener, but just natural.


"They sing and play what the hell they like, and if you've heard nicer harmonies this year, I may call you a liar. I'm glad to be around at the same time as them." 

Never intended for public release, Molly Drake's recordings, made by her husband, weremade at home and are of the time. 

In a climate where films, stories and music are being rehashed for spurious repeat exploitation, if ever a body of work actually merited reappraisal and fresh presentation, surely the work of Molly Drake is it. 

Her songs share plenty of common ground with her son's - charming and bittersweet, yet dark and pensive.

A tour of Molly Drake"s work, reimagined by The Unthanks, will be accompanied by the release of Diversions Vol 4. - The Unthanks Perform The Songs and Poems of Molly Drake.

There is a socially conscious heart to much of The Unthanks work. 

The band see folk music less as a style of music and more as a oral history that offers perspective on our own time. 

Their approach to storytelling straddles the complex relationship between modernism and learning from the past. 

Staunch traditionalism and sonic adventure may seem like polar opposites, yet they are easy bedfellows in the gentle hands of The Unthanks.

Rachel Unthank says: "There was a lot of singing in our house hold and it is still a key element of any family knees up. 

"I do think of myself as predominantly a folk singer. I have also always been a music lover of all genres so it is a little bit more complex as I think this wider listening has also informed my singing. 

"I"d like to think that me and Becks will still be harmonising together when we are old ladies, whether that be at the Albert Hall or in our living room."

More details on the album release, set for April 2017, to be announced at a later date. The Unthanks play Brighton Old Market on 1st May 2017. CLICK HERE for more info.


by: Mike Cobley


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