Luckily the project that this is tied into is one of the most intriguing; a 30ft sailing vessel made from donated wooden items, items that had a story behind them. The guys who built the boat are called Lone Twin, one of Europe’s leading performance companies. The boat is a reality, it's completed its maiden voyage, you can find out more here www.theboatproject.com
So the album has been commissioned for IF: 2012 (the Milton Keynes International Festival) by The Stables, and produced by the Festival’s Artist-in-Residence Adrian McNally (The Unthanks). They have invited a range of singers and songwriters to respond to the stories behind the donated wood. I do wonder whether they had a wooden leg from a whaler...
Those artists are Villagers, Nick Hemming (The Leisure Society), Sarah Blasko, Alasdair Roberts, Hannah Moulette and Raevennan Husbandes, Ralph McTell and Steve Tilston, author Nick Hornby, poet Ian McMillan, Janis Ian, Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell, Guy Chambers, and The Unthanks.
One of the best and most arresting songs is Dream of a Tree in a Spanish Graveyard, primarily from the beautiful verses spoken by poet Ian McMillan contrasting with the unearthly Unthanks. Ever reliable Steve Tilston and Ralph McTell both have wonderfully direct songs that actually get the stories across. A few songs leave you wondering what they were about at all, maybe the premise of the album encourages you to listen too literally to them.
How anyone could make a cohesive sounding album out of so many different voices and artistic directions is amazing, McNally has succeeded admirably. Inevitably with different voices on every song it will feel like a compilation, but it is structured well and the quality improves as you get into the album.