Alasdair Roberts -‘Alasdair Roberts.’ (Drag City)
Though he has quite an impressive indie pedigree, Alasdair Roberts’ work under his own name mostly belongs under folk. This latest album sees him continue to investigate traditional Scottish folksong, even though all of what he presents are his own compositions.
For those who associate ‘folk’ with artists that might simply be using a an acoustic guitar or banjo, this may seem an unfamiliar world, but it’s one that’s worth taking time to get to grips with. Sure, it might seem odd that someone in 2015 is writing songs with names like ‘The Final Diviner’ or ‘The Mossy Shrine’ but whilst he may be a fan of traditional structures and sounds he avoids the snobbery that characterises (and puts off outsiders the stereotypical image of the folk purist.
So while this album may not reveal all its charms immediately, songs like ‘Artless One’ and ‘In Dispraise of Hunger’ reveal a singer-songwriter working in stripped down, but definitely not bland, traditional stylings. And I promise you: each additional play will warm your heart just a little more.
Alasdair Roberts is out now on Drag City.
Blimey, 2014’s not yet over, but already the signs are that 2015 is going to be another good year for music. January 26 will see Scotland’s Alasdair Roberts release his eighth solo album, through Drag City and this time it’s a self-titled effort. At the top of the page you can stream the first track to do the rounds ‘Artless One,’ as well as see the artwork.
The tracklisting for the record is as follows:
1. The Way Unfavoured
2. Honour Song
3. The Problem of Freedom
4. Artless One
5. Hurricane Brown
6. The Final Diviner
7. In Dispraise of Hunger
8. The Mossy Shrine
9. This Uneven Thing
10. Roomful of Relics
Alasdair Roberts & Friends -‘A Wonder Working Stone.’ (Drag City)
Scottish singer-songwriter Alasdair Roberts may be viewed (erroneously) as a somewhat funereal folkie, but by and large, his latest album is quite an uplifting affair. He very much works in a folk tradition, and it’s fair to say that whilst there are no shortages of artists north of the border who produce music that is indebted to folk traditions, his music has far more in common with artists like Kate Rusby, Karine Polwart and Eliza Carthy, say, than many members of the Fence Collective. This is folk music, not folk rock, or God helps us, ‘folk-tronica.’
He writes his own material as well as drawing upon traditional songs, and that is what adds strength to this collection of songs, that he understands the strengths of the tradition(s) he works within, without this being an exercise is simply recycling. He avoids sounding twee-and reigns himself in whenever there is a danger of slipping into folk pastiche, which threatens to happen on album opener ‘The Merry Wake’ but thankfully doesn’t. His guitar work is as evocative as his lyrics, and if at first I wasn’t so sure if I got this record, it unfolds its charms with every listen.
Indeed, a wonder.
A Wonder Working Stone is released on Drag City on January 21.
Alasdair Roberts & Friends -‘The Year Of The Burning.’ mp3