Lines is a trilogy of song cycles, with very different subjects but each inspired by poetry and focused on a different female perspective. Also available on vinyl.
Each volume is also available separately.
Part One: Lillian Bilocca. These songs were originally written and performed by The Unthanks in 2017 for the promenade site specific theatre piece The Last Testament Of Lillian Bilocca, written by Maxine Peake and directed by Sarah Frankcom, for Hull City Of Culture. Lillian Bilocca and the women of Hessle Road in Hull campaigned, successfully, for improved safety at sea for fishermen, following the triple trawler disaster of 1968, in which 58 men lost their lives. Armed with 10,000 signatures collected in 10 days, she led a delegation to present a charter to the government and received a meeting with Harold Wilson, resulting in one of the biggest and most successful civil actions of the 20th century. While initially heralded for her achievement, ‘Big Lil’ quickly became vilified for meddling in ‘men’s work’ and became a scapegoat for the fishing industry’s decline. She received death threats and lost her job. Blacklisted from the fishing industry, she was reduced to cleaning toilets in a nightclub, before dying of cancer at 59. In her theatre piece, Maxine Peake wanted to explore how “when a woman puts her head above the parapet and speaks out, she is more than likely victimised”. The words to the songs on this record were written by Maxine, set to music by Adrian McNally.
Part Two: World War One. These songs were originally written in 2014 for a project marking the opening year of the World War One centenary. The Unthanks decided to record and release them in 2018, the final year. The first track features Sam Lee who spent time researching personal stories from rural communities in the South West of England. The second is written by the singular Scotsman and beloved North East resident, Tim Dalling. The rest is poetry from the WW1 period that we have turned into song, with a focus on the lesser known female voices from the time.
Part Three: Emily Bronte. This record is a collection of Emily Brontë poems, turned into songs by Yorkshire-born Unthanks pianist and composer Adrian McNally. It was performed and arranged with Rachel and Becky Unthank and commissioned by the Brontë Society to mark her 200th Birthday. The songs were written and recorded on Emily’s own piano in the Parsonage in Haworth where she lived and worked. Emily’s piano was lovingly and expertly restored by Ken Forrest. It’s a rare example of a 5 octave cabinet piano probably made in London between 1810 and 1815. It must be played very gently, and has many creeks and idiosyncrasies, many of which are present on these recordings.