Thursday, May 08, 2014

[record review] Alasdair Roberts & Friends "Too Long In This Condition" (2010)

This is another folkie record... what is happening to me, readers? On this one we have song performed by the popular Scottish singer and guitarist Alasdair Roberts. These songs are mostly trad. arrs arranged by Roberts. None of the songs are new Roberts compositions, though there is one by his dad.

Several things make this record. There is Roberts's vocal delivery and his guitar playing. There is also his ability with storytelling tunes. The overall production and the well judged interventions by his collaborators are also important. What I find so attractive about the tunes is the jaunty rolling character of the arrangements. Having tried singing one of his tunes at the Unthanks weekend I know that he favours rhythms other than the straight four-four beat, so his songs roll rather than plod along. This means that even when performing a grim tune like 'Long Lankin' (about child murder and then the harsh retribution for that terrible crime) it still manages to come across as an upbeat toe-tapper.

I also find that there is a cumulative effect to Alasdair Roberts' music. The first song or two by him I heard did not impress me that much, but once I had heard a few I was programmed into his aesthetic. I went back anew to the first song of his I heard ('You Muses Assist', from the brilliant Rough Trade compilation Psych Folk 10) and found myself far more receptive to its charms. But for all that wariness of approaching Roberts on a single song basis, I now present a performance of 'Long Lankin'.

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