A wistful mother in the 1950s makes some simple home recordings in her family sitting room. Little could she have known that decades later, her son would become one of the most poetic and influential songwriters ever, or that more than sixty years later, the dust would be blown off her own songs.
In 2013, Squirrel Thing Recordings, the label behind the mysterious lost recordings of Connie Converse, released Molly Drake —a self-titled collection of never-before-heard songs recorded in the 1950’s at the Drake family home, and lovingly restored by Nick Drake’s engineer John Wood. According to Joe Boyd, legendary producer of Five Leaves Left and Bryter Later, “this is the missing link in the Nick Drake story.”
On the surface, the 2013 release of Molly Drake’s work could easily have been perceived as just a curious footnote and jigsaw piece in explaining the enormous talent of Nick Drake. In the eyes of The Unthanks however, and increasingly amongst others, Molly’s work is extraordinary enough to rank alongside and independently of her brilliant son.
With encouragement from the Drake musical estate and the full blessing and enthusiasm of celebrated actress Gabrielle Drake (Molly’s daughter and Nick’s sister) The Unthanks are relishing the opportunity to reimagine her work and will treat the challenge with the same love and diligence for their subject as they did when reinterpreting the work of Robert Wyatt and Antony & The Johnson’s on Diversions Vol 1.
Never intended for public release, Molly Drake’s recordings, made by her husband, were made at home and are of the time. In a climate where films, stories and music are being rehashed for spurious repeat exploitation, if ever a body of work merited reappraisal and fresh presentation, surely the work of Molly Drake is it. Her songs share plenty of common ground with her son’s – charming and bittersweet, yet dark and pensive.
A tour of Molly Drake’s work, reimagined by The Unthanks, will be accompanied by the release of Diversions Vol 4. How Wild The Wind Blows (The Unthanks Perform The Songs And Poems of Molly Drake). Tour dates are announced and on sale today. Full listings below. More details on the album release, set for April 2017, to be announced at a later date.
Due to the intimate nature of the music, the tour travels to venues that are mostly smaller than for an Unthanks tour. Book early to avoid disappointment!
18 NEWCASTLE UNDER LYME New Vic Theatre
19 MANCHESTER RNCM Theatre
20 WREXHAM William Aston Hall
21 KENDAL Brewery Arts Centre
22 EDINBURGH Queens Hall
23 BERWICK Maltings Theatre
26 BIRMINGHAM Glee Club
27 CAMBRIDGE Corn Exchange
28 BASINGSTOKE The Anvil
29 CARDIFF Tramshed
30 BRADFORD UPON AVON Wiltshire Music Centre
01 BRIGHTON Old Market
02 SOUTHHAMPTON Turner Sims
03 LONDON Albany
06 CLITHEROE Grand
07 BARROW Forum
10 RUNCORN Brindley
11 LEEDS City Varieties
12 LEEDS City Varieties
13 STOCKTON ARC
14 NEWCASTLE The Theatre Royal
25 DUBLIN Vicar St
28 LONDON The Barbican (Milton Court Hall)
In other Unthanks news read about their release of their new book, The Memory Box, here.