The Unthanks – Diversions, Vol. 4: The Songs and Poems of Molly Drake

Enlisting Gabrielle Drake, The Unthanks provide the perfect outlet for Molly Drakes’ songs and poems. An unassuming yet transcendent album.

Molly Drake is perhaps best known as the mother of Nick Drake, the uniquely talented, famously fragile and ill-fated songwriter whose three albums attained a status that quickly grew from cult to classic after his death in 1974. But what is less well-known is that Molly was a prolific songwriter and poet in her own right, at a time when that sort of thing was considered a pastime rather than a valid vocation for women. She was born in Rangoon in 1915 and spent much of her life abroad – much of her life’s path was dictated by British colonial activity in South Asia. In 1944, four years before Nick was born, Molly gave birth to a girl, Gabrielle. [ . . . ]

Source: The Unthanks – Diversions, Vol. 4: The Songs and Poems of Molly Drake



Rachel Unthank: how I fell in love with the defiant songs of Nick Drake’s mother Molly

She fled Burma and made it to Delhi on foot – where she discovered her voice. The singer of the Unthanks explains why the band fell for her spellbinding songs about heartbreak, loss, fragility and fear

“Destiny, do your worst,” declared my five-year-old son the other day. It’s a line from The First Day, a Molly Drake song he has been hearing a great deal of, as we take our new album on tour. I’m confident he doesn’t understand what it means, but he’s certainly taken by its drama. The song – hopeful and defiant, melancholic and searching – captures the essence of Molly’s bittersweet poetry.

A woman came up to me after a recent Unthanks show, with tears in her eyes but smiling warmly, and said: “That was utterly devastating.” This has been the pattern of post-show exchanges: a steady flow of women deeply moved by Molly’s words. They are confused and confounded that they don’t know more about the woman whose songs and poems they have just spent two hours listening to.

Mother of singer-songwriter Nick Drake and the actor Gabrielle Drake, Molly came to public attention in her own right only in 2013, with a limited edition release of her songs and poems, 20 years after her death and almost 40 years after the suicide of her son. We had always been fans of Nick’s music – our album Cruel Sister featured my sister Becky’s interpretation of his beautiful River Man – and we developed a relationship with Gabrielle and the Drake estate. Like many Nick fans, we were eager to hear Molly’s songs, not least because of what we might we glean about her son. [ . . . ]

Read Full Article: TheGuardian

BBC Radio 6 Music – Lauren Laverne, With The Unthanks

With The UnthanksLauren LaverneLauren welcomes The Unthanks to the Live Room.

The Northumbrian folk five piece’s latest album Diversions Vol – The Songs And Poems Of Molly Drake is due out on the 26th of May on the Rabble Rouser label.

The project seeks to understand, connect with and share the great writing of Molly Drake, mother of Nick who was a wonderful, yet unknown poet and songwriter. She made a number of home recordings with her husband in the 1950s and now, some 60 years later, her work is being loving brought to new audiences.With the help of Molly’s daughter Gabrielle, The Unthanks have created an extraordinary album, which sets Molly’s poetry to music.

The draw of creating such a record was simple, with the band saying “Hearing a woman, a mother, from that time, expressing the struggle between darkness and light, so beautifully, with such artistry, confidently, and yet kind of from behind closed doors, is as compelling a listen as we’ve ever experienced”.All this plus Lauren has this week’s Memory Tapes, a celebration of a listeners beloved mixtape, Just Added, a Headphones Moment and as much music as we can pack in.

Listen at: BBC Radio 6 Music – Lauren Laverne, With The Unthanks


The Unthanks have never been an act to shy away from a challenge, especially in their occasional Diversions releases, which so far have seen them work with a brass band, soundtrack a film about the shipyards and interpret the work of Robert Wyatt and Antony & The Johnsons to singular and powerful effect. So it should come as no surprise that the latest Diversions volume, The Songs And Poems Of Molly Drake, is not only one of their most intriguing releases yet but also, according to their musical director and pianist Adrian McNally, might even be their best work

So can I first ask how the idea for the Molly Drake project arose? Was it on the back of the 2013 album or had it been on your minds beforehand?

“Our relationship with the Drakes goes back beyond the release of Molly’s work in 2013. The actress Gabrielle Drake, Molly’s daughter and Nick’s sister, had already been to see us perform years ago, having been made aware of our readings of Nick Drake songs, by the man known only as Cally, who runs the Drake musical estate on behalf of and alongside Gabrielle. They’re sweet, smart, brilliant people. Both of them. From time to time, Gabrielle tours around with Cally, talking generously to those of us still engaged with the enigma of her brother, who in his lifetime, she was at least if not more famous than. Cally sent us the Molly Drake record when it came out, but it wasn’t the first music he’d ever sent us. He’s sent us lots of bits and bobs. Had we known each other twenty five years ago, I’m sure we might have sent each other compilation tapes. We’re all music mad, and he is music madder. So whether he meant to plant a seed by sending us Molly, I don’t know, but I don’t think we got through our first listen without that feeling that would have to do something with these songs.” [ . . . ]

Continued at Source: INTERVIEW: THE UNTHANKS | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

Jason McNiff: Rain Dries Your Eyes | Folk Radio UK

Jason McNiff, a London-based songwriter of Polish and Irish descent, has been a hidden gem in the British indie-folk scene for the last fifteen years or so, quietly and confidently building up a large body of consistently outstanding work. Rain Dries Your Eyes is a comprehensive two-disc retrospective with songs taken from his five albums, plus some new and unreleased tracks [ . . . ]

Read More at source: Jason McNiff: Rain Dries Your Eyes | Folk Radio UK

Katell Keineg – Interview – Louder Than War

Currently working alongside Gareth Bonello of The Gentle Good, Cardiff-based musician Katell Keineg is playing a one-off show in support of Joan Osborne at London’s Union Chapel.  Louder Than War’s Melz Durston caught up with Katell for a chat. 

Some stars shine the brightest when out of view, and this would be true of Katell Keineg, BretonWelsh musician who never quite embraced the glaring lights of fame and fortune, despite a voice that soars, and cuts you to the core, and a life lived fully and courageously. You can live your life in an endless wait, or build it high on the present tense, are the words Katell sang on One Hell of a Life, and she has surely lived up to that philosophy.

Born in Brittany, Katell spent the first eight years of her childhood travelling back and forth between there and Wales, where eventually she would settle with her family before leaving to study in London.  Propelled towards sonic adventures from an early age, aged 16, Katell and her friend made a pilgrimage to Bron Yr Aur, having identified where Led Zepellin wrote their third album [ . . . ]

Full Story at Source: Katell Keineg – interview – Louder Than War | Louder Than War

Mouse Eat Mouse: Scottish musos on independence and working class liberation

Self-described “extreme folk” Scottish band Mouse Eat Mouse are one of the more obscure acts around, which makes it all the more satisfying to hear any new works.Last year’s Toxic Tails is an album of beauty, anger and passion, traits often missing in today’s sanitised music industry.I decided, therefore, to get in touch with CD Shade, the bald-headed, smooth-singing wordsmith who is the backbone of the act.

It turned out to be a fascinating exchange, Shade [ . . . ]

More at Source: Mouse Eat Mouse: Scottish musos on independence and working class liberation | Green Left Weekly

New project brings major folk song collection to UK

The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library Digital Archive has launched a new project to incorporate a pivotal early 20th century collection of British songs into its folk music database.

The digitised collection of James Madison Carpenter (pictured above), which has previously only been accessible by visiting the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, will become free to access online for the first time.

Carpenter’s work includes a wealth of traditional songs, ballads and folk plays collected from performers in Scotland, England and Wales by the Harvard-trained scholar, mostly in the period from 1929 to 1935.

As well as more than 2,000 items of traditional song and 300 folk plays, it contains some items of traditional instrumental music, dance, custom, narrative and children’s folklore.The project is being delivered by the Elphinstone Institute, the centre for the study of Ethnology, Folklore, and Ethnomusicology at the University of Aberdeen, in partnership with the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS), which runs the archive at Cecil Sharp House in London.

A new learning resource for teachers will be created for the online EFDSS Resource Bank using a selection of material from the collection.EFDSS will also deliver a series of creative learning projects with young people, adults, and in schools to introduce the collection to a new audience [ . . . ]

More at: New project brings major folk song collection to UK – M Magazine

You Know What You Could Be review – a Scottish tale of psychedelic folk


This enjoyable joint memoir by Mike Heron and Andrew Greig has at its centre late 60s hippiedom and the Incredible String Band

This book is a freak, a fairground mermaid, half monkey, half fish. It is therefore entirely in keeping with its subject, the Incredible String Band, the 1960s group that was never quite one thing nor another – folk or rock or world music – but always a mingling of influences, voices and styles.

You Know What You Could Be is a joint memoir, at times a joints memoir, written by the String Band’s Mike Heron and the poet Andrew Greig. Despite being the marquee name and main draw, Heron here plays the support act in his own story. His contribution comes first and takes up not quite a third of the book. He sometimes uses the present tense (“I’m back at the drug emporium two days later”) to describe the years between 1957, when he is a 15-year-old Edinburgh schoolboy, and 1966, when he is on the brink of becoming a star. Greig picks up the story in the late autumn of ’67, writing in the past tense about how he, still at school in Fife, had his mind blown by the String Band [ . . . ]

Read Complete Story: You Know What You Could Be review – a Scottish tale of psychedelic folk | Books | The Guardian