I heard of Rachel Unthank and the Winterset, as they were formerly known, via a cheap CD of up and coming folk acts a couple of years ago. I listened to their first album, Cruel Sister, and marvelled at the sound, the songwriting, the lyrical insight gained from singing about everyday life, then I put it away, because the bleakness of it all was too much even for a hard-bitten rodent such as myself.
However, snatches of lyrics kept coming to me as I performed the tasks featured in the songs - work, commuting, lonely evenings, and I gave in, only to discover that there's a warmth in the songs' appreciation of our shared experiences which I hadn't previously noted.
So that was their early music. Here's the Tender Coming is one for those of you with a sunnier disposition. Obviously this is relative: they're still a Northern folk troupe, but the mood is more melancholic than downright harsh than the second album, The Bairns, and the instrumentation is much more lush.
So yes, double thumbs up for the Unthanks. Give them something to smile about…