The Unthanks - Diversions Volume 4.

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.

The Unthanks
The Unthanks

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!

The Unthanks

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 Unthanks

The final composite was put together by Steven Wainwright. It was great to see it for the first time!

The-Unthanks-Diversions-Vol.-4-The-Songs-and-Poems-of-Molly-Drake.jpg

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.

The Unthanks
The Unthanks
The Unthanks

 

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.

The Unthanks

It was a crisp bright October day as I headed up to Northumberland.  I had been asked by The Unthanks to take images of them in their studio for their new album Mount The Air.  As the sat nav directed me closer, the sun was peeping from behind the clouds and illuminated the misty valley below.  I arrived at their studio and said my hellos over a cup of tea.  The light was just perfect as it streamed through the windows.  I documented their morning as they rehearsed and played along to the tracks, it was great to get a sneak preview of the new album!

There was a butterfly flitting around from one sun spot to the other, and it landed on Niopha's violin as she played..

Then we went outside and walked down some of the country lanes to take a few more images.

The album came out a few weeks ago (and went straight into the charts at 17!), and it's a truly wonderful collection of songs.  I love how they weave their interpretations around traditional tales, the way they tell stories and create a landscape in their music.  Mount The Air also has jazz influences and Flutter has a trip hop air to it -  you can listen to it here.  And here's Alex Petridis talking about the album.  There are many goose bump inducing moments. 

At the beginning of last year I had said to myself that I'd like to do a bit more music photography.  I felt quite overwhelmed when my vinyl copy came through the post last week and I saw it there in front of me. 

We're really looking forward to seeing them play in Manchester tonight, and from the reviews I've read, it's going to be one of those you talk about for quite a while after.

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