Cruel Sister

2005 RabbleRouser Music RR005 BUY IT DIRECTLY FROM THE BAND:


“Simply gripping..their ambition knows no bounds..such a gratifying album” fROOTS

“joyous…refreshingly forthright and in-yer-face” **** MOJO MAGAZINE

“When they strike gold, the results are electrifying” NETRHYTHMS.COM

“This is music lived, not learned” FOLK ON TAP

“Tight, evocative and full of resonance.. an inspiration” FATEA.FREESERVE.CO.UK

“A quite wonderful album…I just love it. Bringing traditional music right into the 21st Century, I can’t recommend it strongly enough…when the Radio 2 Folk Awards come round next year, I really hope that this album will be one of the contenders” BOB HARRIS, BBC RADIO 2


“Fresh voung voices digging deep into the tradition and coming up with the goods” MIKE HARDING BBC Radio2 (19.07.05)



The debut album by Rachel Unthank & The Winterset was released in May 2005. At the end of 2005, Cruel Sister was made Mojo Magazine Folk Album of the Year, proving that traditional music can be commercially successful without being watered down.

Recorded on a shoe-string budget, Cruel Sister captured honest performances, using basic production values to create a listening experience akin to being in the same room as the performers. The album has won them affection from folk purists, the mainstream music world and from leftfield music circles alike, inspiring the likes of Phil Jupitus to broadcast unaccompanied mining songs on daytime BBC 6 Music.

Combining integrity with imagination, Rachel Unthank & The Winterset defy the logic that staunch tradition and sonic adventure are surely virtues polls apart.

Includes the stunning Fair Rosamund, a radio-friendly January Man, Nick Drake’s River Man and a timely tribute to Cyril Tawney with On A Monday Morning..

Cruel Sister draws on source material from Rachel and Becky’s native North-East, with an enigmatic interpretation of The Fair Flower Of Northumber-land, eight-minute album centrepiece Cruel Sister, an ethereal Bonny At Morn, Alex Glasgow’s Twenty Long Weeks and a delightful slice of Boxing Day tradition, The Greatham Calling On Song, recorded outside with some Redcar Sword Dancers!

A timely interpretation of Cyril Tawney’s On a Monday Morning (recorded before his recent death) and Dave Goulder’s January Man should command radio play, while the remarkable Fair Rosamund will surely earn Rachel plaudits for best traditional song. Becky’s charming version of Nick Drake’s River Man has a fragility few singers would be comfortable with, while Rachel and Becky’s signature tune Troubled Waters (by Matt McGuin) closes the album with a host of Unthank family members joining in, including mother and father Pat and George.

The Guests
Guest musicians on the album include Last Night’s Fun concertina wizard Chris Sherburn, Julian Sutton of Kathryn Tickell Band fame on melodeon, Mick Hockenhall on banjo, Edinburgh’s Rosie Morton on Clarsach, guitarists David Kosky and Adrian McNally, Demon Barber members Bryony Griffith and Will Hampson, some “real-live Redcar sword-dancers” and a whole host of Unthanks and friends!

The Producer
The album is produced by the band’s manager, and record label owner Adrian McNally, who also produced Last Night’s Fun’s Tempered (Mojo Magazine Folk Album of the Month Aug 04) and Winterset pianist’s Belinda O’Hooley’s Music Is My Silence , which will be released shortly on RabbleRouser.

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