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Diversions Vol. 5
Live & Unaccompanied


Artist: The Unthanks
Label: RabbleRouser Music
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 20 March 2020

The Unthanks release their new album, Diversions Vol. 5: Live & Unaccompanied, which sees the trio perform 13 (45 min, 29 sec) raw and stripped back folk songs...

You're either a fan of The Unthanks or you're not - there's no middle ground here. I have to admit, that after enjoying Their 2015 album, Mount the Air, with its carefully constructed balance of vocals and instrumentation, it took a short while to get used to hearing the three women carrying the songs without any accompaniment. Songs, like 'Foundling', from Mount the Air, just wouldn't work quite so well without the musical accompaniment, as the emotion is derived from the twinning of the two. You'll be glad to hear they don't even attempt it here.

And this, pretty much, is how the album continues. I know it's an album of unaccompanied songs, but I couldn't help think that it was all the weaker for it. The vocals are fine and the choice of songs represent a good mix. But I think I've been spoilt by their previous polished offering. The one exception is 'We Picked Apples In A Graveyard Freshly Mowed', which is a painfully beautiful cover of Richard Dawson's song... but even here I couldn't help wondering how it would have sounded with a full accompaniment.

Those that want to hear another side of the trio, a stripped back, more intimate sound, will love what they deliver. Those that enjoyed their previous album and are expecting more of the same may come away a little disappointed.


Nick Smithson

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