Album Review: The Unthanks - Last (Rabble Rouser)

The turning cogs below the surface of English folk

Laura Marling’s whispery folk may have sidled into the mainstream, but The Unthanks have been quietly subverting English folk music across three previous albums. ‘Last’ retains the intimacy of their previous recordings, but it’s augmented with more orchestral flourishes.

There’s no stodge here though, as the album, especially the haunting ‘Close The Coalhouse Door’ and covers of Tom Waits and King Crimson, proves the mix of Rachel and Becky’s voices to be one of the true wonders of 21st-century music. Rachel’s wispy rasp in particular has the ominous beauty of a lick of smoke under the doorframe at 3am. ‘The Bairns’ remains their classic, but ‘Last’ is, as they say, by no means least.

Anthony Thornton


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8 / 10

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