onto something good. The new Unthanks album is called Here's the Tender Coming. The title refers to a naval vessel coming to take away a woman's conscripted partner. The Unthanks were never going to make a happy album, Rachel explains, but Here's The Tender Coming is hopefully a warmer, calmer shade of sad" than its predecessor, The Bairns.
That may be, but "The Testimony of Patience Kershaw," drawn from the words of a seventeen-year-old woman who appeared before a British child labor commission in 1842, is harrowing. The gray northern landscape of mines and ships in bad weather hangs over the album, with just a few lighthearted songs for balance. The Unthanks are among the young musicians (Lissa Schneckenburger is another one on our side of the pond) who've rediscovered the tragic power of traditional balladry. They also choose the most serious examples from the work of modern songwriters like Ewan MacColl and Lal Waterson.