- Adrian McNally Curates and Produces A Harbour of Songs
- July 1st, 2012
Unthanks pianist, producer and arranger Adrian McNally is involved in a unique album, featuring The Unthanks and other artists, that comes out this summer and has already been played by Lauren Laverne on 6Music. Adrian’s official title is Artist in Residence for this year’s Milton Keynes International Festival. He was commissioned earlier this year to make a record inspired by The Lone Twin Boat Project and the stories behind the wood donated to build it. As co-curator alongside festival director Monica Ferguson, Adrian invited a diverse range of songwriters to each respond to a story from The Boat Project. The result is Harbour of Songs released on Monday 23rd July, the day on which The Unthanks will play in a Spiegeltent at Milton Keynes Internatinal Festival, where they will be joined by guests from the record.
Contributing artists to the record include The Unthanks, Ivor Novello award-winning and Mercury nominated Villagers, Ivor Novello-nominated Nick Hemming (The Leisure Society), Australian singer-songwriter Sarah Blasko (big in her own country and now making waves here in Europe), rising stars Alasdair Roberts, Hannah Moulette and Raevennan Husbandes, folk legends Ralph McTell and Steve Tilston, internationally successful novelist/writer Nick Hornby, ‘The Bard of Barnsley’ poet Ian McMillan, American singer-songwriting legend Janis Ian, BBC Folk Award nominees Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell, and Guy Chambers – probably Britain’s most successful modern songwriter, best known for his work with Robbie Williams. The Nick Hornby song has words written by the author, and music written by Adrian McNally, and performed by The Unthanks. The Ian McMillan piece is also a collaboration between the poet and The Unthanks. Rachel and Becky Unthank contribute to several tracks, as do Unthank members Chris Price and Niopha Keegan. Other musicians on the record include trombone legend Annie Whitehead and north-east accordion wizard Tim Dalling. Adrian’s characteristic string and brass arrangements feature across the record.
From Adrian’s sleeve notes: “As curator and producer for this record, it has been a pleasure and an honour to work with these artists, and to be a part of this unique project. Lone Twin have inspired a modern exercise in storytelling that I hope will be not be the last of it’s kind. That people have given up treasured possessions in favour of sharing the stories behind them with the rest of mankind, is heartwarming, and hopefully shows that we are still a philanthropic society, beneath the cult of the individual endured over recent times. With some artists, I collaborated directly. With others, they sent me their vocal and perhaps a guide piano or guitar, and the rest was up to me. These songwriters have exercised great trust in allowing me to meddle with their music, for which I’m extremely grateful, and it has been lots of fun trying to find the right musical colours to tell these stories with.”