The Bairns

Rachel Unthank & the Winterset

Released 19 August 2007

  1. Felton Lonnin
  2. Lull I
  3. Blue Bleezing Blind Drunk
  4. I Wish
  5. Blue's Gaen Oot O'The Fashion
  6. Lull II : My Lad's A Canny Lad
  7. Blackbird
  8. Lull III : A Minor Place
  9. Sea Song
  10. Whitethorn
  11. Lull IV : Can't Stop It Raining
  12. My Donald
  13. Ma Bonny Lad
  14. Fareweel Regality
  15. Newcastle Lullaby

Liner notes

Forging links between folk worlds old, new and other, Rachel and her set have blown a bracing north-easterly gale through traditional English song, casting it in an endlessly inventive and playful new mould. Transcendent and grounded music folds around unsentimental old, new and imaginatively borrowed stories of booze, brawls, abuse, loss, fear, infantile death, depravity and sorrow. “If the effect is austere, it is never bleak. Rather the starkness is graceful, gripping and utterly thrilling” says Nigel Williamson in HMV Magazine.

Described as “a bewitching, dream-like, down-to-earth masterpiece” in the Observer Music Magazine’s Top 50 Albums of the 2007, The Bairns is already a classic in it’s own lifetime, featuring as either the top or only folk album in every 2007 end-of-year poll it featured in.

Photo credit: Karen Melvin

Dancing down the leftfield and singing in their own lilting Geordie accents, Rachel Unthank & The Winterset are the “inheritors, curators and gleeful distorters” (Ian MacMillan) of Tyneside’s traditions. Discreetly provocative arrangements draw on elements of blues, jazz, music hall, burlesque cabaret, classical and leftfield contemporary music, making their take on folk music peerless, fearless and wholeheartedly brave. Fans as disparate as Robert Wyatt, Kate Rusby, Paul Morley, Nic Jones, Phil Jupitus and Joan As Policewoman have joined the chorus of adulation from the press.

Their debut album Cruel Sister won Mojo Folk Album of the Year, and new album The Bairns has been described as “utterly gorgeous” by The Guardian as “a work of towering quality” by The Telegraph and Rachel Unthank & The Winterset were nominated for Best Group, Best Live Act, Best Album and The Horizon Award at 2008 BBC Folk Awards, winning the Horizon Award.

Blue Bleezin' Blind Drunk (live at Abbey Road)


  • ‘Intimate, epic, overflowing with feeling and musical intelligence’ The Independent (UK)
  • They might not end up being the best-selling British all-girl group of all time, but they’re well on their way to being the most charismatic and imaginative. The Winterset create a sensationally graceful sound that can be epic and subdued, dreamy and specific, as well as supernaturally ancient and defiantly modern.. easily more contemporary and stylish than boys in skinny trousers holding electric guitars like it’s 1969.” Sunday Telegraph (UK)


Further Listening

  • Acoustic

    The Breath

    Released 10 August 2017

    Recorded at Real World Studios, these are four acoustic interpretations of tracks from the The Breath's debut album Carry Your Kin. Stuart McCallum's stripped back guitar beautifully frames Ríoghnach Connolly's moving vocals —at times heartbreakingly sad, always deeply moving.
  • Anian


    Released 28 April 2016

    ‘Anian’ is 9Bach's third album. Like 2014's ‘Tincian’ it begins in North Wales, but broadens out through Greek and Near Eastern influences into an emotional tour de force. Angry, sad, but most of all passionate at the state of the world, the album taps into a truly universal language.

Further reading

The Breath pay tribute to American cult folk icon Karen Dalton with new single

Karen Dalton's classic album In My Own Time is 50 years old this month.

Djivan Gasparyan (1928 – 2021)

The Armenian duduk player collaborated with Michael Brook on the album Black Rock in 1998.

A Lantern and a Bell: Track by Track

Emil Svanängen a.k.a. Loney dear and producer Emanuel Lundgren discuss the new album.

Alternative Valentines: 22 Love songs from across the world

A an eclectic collection of love songs taken from the Real World Records catalogue.