Song of the Day, July 29: Gan to the Kye by the Unthanks

UnthanksLastToday’s song is the perfect opening to a brilliant album. After two albums as Rachel Unthank and the Winterset, Rachel’s younger sister Becky became a permanent part of the band. A few other personnel changes — including a regular position in the band for long-time producer Adrian McNally — resulted in a new name. The Unthanks recorded the acclaimed Here’s the Tender Coming, then followed it with a quiet masterpiece.

Last continues the group’s blend of traditional and modern folk in quietly moving settings. The Unthank sisters’ voices work nicely together, and the band have become a sympathetic, cohesive unit. The disc opens with a stirring traditional song, Gan to the Kye. With subtle, moving strings and flawless percussion, the musical backdrop works nicely for the eerie vocals. It’s a mystical package of old, rural life, that just happens to be directed at the cattle that are the lifeblood of the family in the song. Its a bit of rural passion with mystic overtones, reminisent of Cheri Knight’s stirring Dar Glasgow.

With smart, sensitive delivery and an evocative performance, the Unthanks make it work — gorgeously. Enjoy this wonderful track today.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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