Back in December last year, I travelled up to the beautiful village in Northumberland where The Unthanks have their recording studio. They'd asked me to take some publicity shots to announce their new Diversions Album to be released early 2017. The album was going to be a reworking of some of Molly Drake's beautiful songs and poems. Being a fan of her son Nick Drake's work, I had heard some work by Molly, and it seemed to be the perfect fit for The Unthanks to weave their unique sound amongst those tunes and words.
The concept behind the shots was that Rachel and Becky were to join an existing photograph of Molly in a composite, and to make the sisters look ghostly. So I took a series of shots of both Rachel and Becky individually against a plain background. I freelensed a few to give the images that dreamy, ethereal feel.
It was a beautiful winter's day outside, so we went down the lane and took a couple more, making good use of that low light!
I worked on a few edits back in the office and brought Becky & Rachel together just to see what the final choices would look like.
The final composite was put together by Steven Wainwright. It was great to see it for the first time!
It's a stunning album. I tried to explain Molly's music in words and then I found this description from Adrian (the pianist, musical director, and producer) and it's just perfect - 'Stylistically, the first thing you hear is the mannerisms of the time. The Noel Coward, Ivor Novello-esque hallmarks of the era are there in her piano playing, and a stiff, properness in the voice. But then, in stunning contrast and contradiction, her softness, her emotional intelligence, her sensual and radiant artistry, start to reach out to you. Hearing a woman, a mother, from that time, expressing her personal, melancholic, philosophical thoughts, so beautifully, with such guile and confidence, and yet kind of from behind closed doors, is as compelling a listen as I’ve ever experienced'.
The publicity shot I worked on is on the inside sleeve of the album, and the cover of the Extras.
If you'd like to here one of the songs, take a listen to this beautiful track. It pulls me in each time I listen to it. The spoken words are by Molly's daughter Nick's sister, Gabrielle.