Last (Unthanks album)

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Album cover - Last by The Unthanks.jpg
Studio album by The Unthanks
Released 14 March 2011 (UK)
Genre Folk
Length 49:38
Label UK: Rabble Rouser/ EMI Records (EMI 095 9942); Australia: Fuse Australia (FMG101); Europe and North America: Rough Trade (RGTE 617)
Producer Adrian McNally
The Unthanks chronology
Here's the Tender Coming
The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & the Johnsons
Singles from Last
  1. "Last (radio edit)"
    Released: 13 June 2011
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Sunday Express 5/5 stars[1]
AllMusic 4/5 stars[2]
The Daily Telegraph 4/5 stars[3]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[4]
Record Collector 4/5 stars[5]
NME 8/10 stars[6]
PopMatters 8/10 stars[7]
Pitchfork 7.6/10 stars[8]

Last, the fourth album by English folk group The Unthanks, was released on 14 March 2011. It reached number 40 in the UK Albums Chart and was well received by the critics, receiving a five-starred review in the Sunday Express and four-starred reviews in The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph.


As well as traditional material, the album included a song written by band member Adrian McNally ("Last"), and versions of songs by Jon Redfern ("Give Away Your Heart"), Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan ("No One Knows I'm Gone"), King Crimson ("Starless") and Alex Glasgow ("Close the Coalhouse Door"). "Last" was also issued as a single, edited for radio play; this was released on 13 June 2011.

Production and release[edit]

The album was produced by Adrian McNally; he and Thom Lewis were the sound engineers. The album was mastered by Denis Blackham and was released in the UK by Rabble Rouser Music on 14 March 2011. It was released in Europe by Rough Trade Records and in Australia on the Fuse Music Group label.[9]


Sid Smith, for BBC Music, said that "Proving once again that sad songs are very often the best, their fourth album is brimming with material that is as haunting as it is beautiful."[10] In a five-starred review for the Sunday Express, Martin Townsend proclaimed it "a gorgeously unhurried, utterly mesmerising masterpiece".[1]

Mark Deming, in a four-starred review for AllMusic, described Last as "a striking fusion of British folk music with austere, arty pop, featuring adventurous arrangements and dynamics that recall acts like Tindersticks, Sufjan Stevens, and American Music Club".[2] In a four-starred review for The Guardian, Robin Denselow described it as "a bold and highly original set".[4] Thomas H Green of The Daily Telegraph also gave the album four stars and said it was "string-laden and luscious but also delicate, wistful and melancholy".[3]

David Bevan, reviewing the album for Pitchfork, said of Rachel and Becky Unthank's voices: "The revolving harmonies of 'Canny Hobbie Elliot' are emblematic of how well they can work together. Though it's one of the few songs on Last that isn't sad and bleak, their voices come together just so, and the result is mystifying and devastating."[8] Writing in NME, Anthony Thornton said that the album "proves the mix of Rachel and Becky’s voices to be one of the true wonders of 21st-century music".[11]

Graeme Thomson, writing for Uncut, said: "This is a bleakly beautiful record which unfolds slowly... And while there’s a tendency for the songs to merge into one indistinct flow, it seems self-defeating to try to unpick the individual strands of this LP: its strength lies in holding a distinct – and chilly – atmosphere throughout."[12] Ben Myers, reviewing Last for The Quietus, said: "When the latest pop fad fades from view, The Unthanks music will continue to resonate down through the generations... This is music that will last. And that perhaps is precisely the point that the ambiguous album title is getting at."[13]

Josh Modell of Spin magazine said that on the album the Unthank sisters "sing gorgeously doleful tales inspired by (and frequently taken from) Old English history, rendered in crisp, warm recordings".[14]

The album reached number 40 in the UK Albums Chart.[15]

Track listing[edit]

No Title Lyrics and music Length
1 "Gan To The Kye" Traditional, arranged by The Unthanks 5:39
2 "The Gallowgate Lad" Lyrics: Joe Wilson. Music: Traditional (Tune: Sally Grey), arranged by The Unthanks 6:06
3 "Queen of Hearts" Traditional, arranged by The Unthanks 4:32
4 "Last" Adrian McNally 7:09
5 "Give Away Your Heart" Jon Redfern 3:49
6 "No One Knows I'm Gone" Tom Waits/Kathleen Brennan (Tom Waits cover) 2:11
7 "My Laddie Sits Ower Late Up" Traditional, arranged by The Unthanks 2:45
8 "Canny Hobbie Elliot" Traditional, arranged by The Unthanks 3:28
9 "Starless" Cross/Fripp/Wetton/Palmer-James (King Crimson cover) 6:00
10 "Close The Coalhouse Door" Alex Glasgow 7:02
11 "Last" (reprise) Adrian McNally 0:57 Total length = 49:38


The Unthanks
  • Rachel Unthank – voice, kalimba
  • Becky Unthank – voice
  • Niopha Keegan – violin, voice
  • Adrian McNally – piano, dulcitone, voice, drums
  • Chris Price – bass, acoustic and electric guitar, ukulele
Additional musicians
  • Ros Stephen  – violin
  • Becca Spencer  – viola
  • Jo Silverston  – cello
  • Lizzie Jones – trumpet
  • Dean Ravera – double bass
  • Alex Neilson – drums
  • Julian Sutton – melodeon


The artwork for the album was by Steven Wainwright. The front cover incorporated an illustration from an 1863 edition of Harper's Weekly by American artist Winslow Homer whose career included painting for two years in the North East of England.[16]


Chart (2011) Peak
UK Albums (OCC)[17] 40


  1. ^ a b Martin Townsend (13 March 2011). "Album review – The Unthanks: Last (Rabblerouser/EMI)". Sunday Express (London). Retrieved 24 August 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Mark Deming (2011). "The Unthanks: Last". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 February 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Thomas H Green (11 March 2011). "'Last' by The Unthanks' is luscious and delicate". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Robin Denselow (10 March 2011). "The Unthanks: Last – Review". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  5. ^ Terry Staunton (March 2011). "The Unthanks – Last". Record Collector (386). 
  6. ^ Anthony Thornton (16 March 2011). "Album Review: The Unthanks – Last (Rabble Rouser)". NME. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  7. ^ Steve Horowitz (17 April 2011). "The Unthanks: Last". PopMatters. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  8. ^ a b David Bevan (27 May 2011). "The Unthanks: Last". Pitchfork. Retrieved 1 March 2015. 
  9. ^ "Album of the week: the Unthanks". RN. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 18 April 2011. Retrieved 28 November 2015. 
  10. ^ Sid Smith (3 March 2011). "Brimming with material that is as haunting as it is beautiful". BBC Music, BBC website. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  11. ^ Anthony Thornton (16 March 2011). "The turning cogs below the surface of English folk". NME. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  12. ^ Graeme Thomson (2011). "The Unthanks – Last". Uncut. Retrieved 24 June 2014. 
  13. ^ Ben Myers (23 March 2011). "The Unthanks: Last". The Quietus. Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  14. ^ Josh Modell (19 April 2011). "The Unthanks, ‘Last’ (Rough Trade)". Spin. Retrieved 12 September 2015. 
  15. ^ "Official Charts Analysis". Mediaor. 16 February 2015. Retrieved 1 March 2015. 
  16. ^ Sleeve notes
  17. ^ "2011-03-20 Top 40 UK Albums Archive". Official Charts Company.

External links[edit]