Here’s the Tender Coming
Rachel and Becky Unthank possess the sort of heartbreaking voices that can reanimate even the most ancient of folk ballads. Here’s the Tender Coming’s tracks combine the austere urgency of Philip Glass (particularly in the use of strings) with hints of modern jazz, but the mostly traditional narratives they convey remain timeless. The Unthank sisters sing in the resolute accents of Northeast England, embodying the pathos of the working-class characters within their songs. “The Testimony of Patience Kershaw,” “Annachie Gordon” and “Nobody Knew She Was There” are deeply moving tales framed by starkly evocative arrangements. The dreamy strings and misty trumpet tones on “Living By the Water” capture an eerie blend of serenity and disquiet, while the beat-box rhythms of “Sad February” underscore the tune’s bleak imagery. The largely downbeat mood of the album lightens on “Because He Was a Bonny Lad,” a buoyant track filled with deft vocal interplay. Ultimately, the melancholy beauty of Here’s the Tender Coming transcends the folk label, striking a universal note of human suffering and courage.