Alasdair Roberts is a Scottish folk singer/songwriter who has been active in the music scene since about 1994. I’ve been wanting to listen to a folksier album lately, especially after hearing the Magic Castles album last night, and Alasdair Roberts came across my Apple Music suggestions in the folk category, so I figured I’d check him out tonight. Roberts first released albums under the name, Appendix Out, but beginning around 2001, Roberts started releasing music under his own name; Roberts is also a member of The Furrow Collective, a folk supergroup that I’m sure I’ll check out soon. Roberts seems to have received a lot of attention and praise online, so I’m pretty excited to give this album a listen. With that said, I’m going to jump on into the music.
“Riddle Me This” immediately starts with a super sweet and hypnotic harmonization between an acoustic guitar and Roberts’ voice. Holy smokes, I’m really digging this track a lot already. Roberts’ Scottish accent somehow makes his high notes seemingly sweeter. Oh wow, there’s a really interesting beat that seems to have a traditional Celtic folk style. Holy smokes, there’s a deeper vocal that harmonizes with Roberts’ voice for a moment, providing a bit of an earthy sound to the track. The track has a really pleasant dynamic feel in the natural ebb and flow of the soundscape, reminding me of a combination of Diane Clucks and Martin Carthy in the process. Great track, and I’m excited to hear more.
“Where Twines the Path” gets started with a really pleasant folksy combination of acoustic guitar and mellow electric guitar. Oh wow, the track gets grooving really nicely with some chords from the electric guitar and what sound to be accentuations in the melody from a banjo or another similar, twangy folk instrument. Oh wow, the track softens up really nicely to seemingly build tension, and then the soundscape breaks through and releases the tension for a super sweet ending. Great tune.
“Waxwing” has some super flavorful acoustic folk guitar reminiscent of Bert Jansch, and the vocals even seem to have a similar quality to Jansch’s Scottish-inflected singing in this mellow track. Oh wow, I really dig the sweet harmonizations between the electric guitar and the vocals. Holy smokes, the track changes up and now has the overall sound of what I would consider a traditional Scottish folktale sort of sound. Wow, great track.
Holy smokes, “I Had a Kiss of the King’s Hand” starts out with some super sweet folksy guitar and an interesting folksy rhythm in the bass and drums that remind me a lot of Richard Thompson and Fairport Convention. Oh wow, there are some really sweet folk melodies and harmonizations between different vocal lines and the acoustic guitar. It sounds like there are a few other vocalists in this song at times that harmonize with Roberts’ sweet vocals and provide a bit of earthiness while doing so. Oh wow, there’s a really sweet folksy outro to this song. Great track.
Oh wow, “The Cruel War” has a classic Scottish folk ballad sound at the beginning. I really dig the particular flavor in the guitar of this track, which is the kind of song that would be the score to a folktale during a crucial moment in the protagonist’s journey. Oh wow, the electric guitar somehow adds even more sweetness to this track with the mellow chords that somehow add more weight to Roberts’ vocals. The beat almost verges into folk rock territory at certain points as well. Wow, awesome tune.
“Let Me Lie and Bleed Awhile” begins with some really sweet, and almost melancholic folk guitar. Oh wow, I’m really digging the songwriting in this track. The album thus far seems to be one continuous story, which only has me listening closer and closer as the music continues. Oh wow, the harmonizations between the vocals and the sweet acoustic guitar has me increasingly close to my speakers. I’m almost even reminded of John Fahey with the way some of the notes ring out in the acoustic guitar. Great track.
‘Firewater” gets started with an upbeat clapping sound and some folksy acoustic guitar, as though you and your friends are gathered around a campfire in the old Scottish hills, singing and drinking with one another. Oh wow, there’s a really interesting sound in the bass, which almost has a bit of a buzzy quality to it. The sweet vocal lines from Roberts pair really nicely with the buzzing in the bass and clapping in the rhythm. Holy smokes, the song has picked up some momentum, as the buzzing sound in the bass seems to be a synth that’s getting increasingly exploratory while Roberts’ vocals and guitar continue on a more traditional folksy path. Wow, great track.
“River Rhine” begins with some really sweet folk guitar and a mellow rhythm section from the bass line and drums, which combine to remind me a lot of a mellow version of Jerry Garcia’s “The Wheel”. There are some really sweet accentuations from what might be a mandolin, and there’s also an electric guitar that flows nicely and sort of has an autoharp-like quality to the sweet chords. Wow, super sweet track.
Oh wow, “I Have a Charm” starts away with some bluesy acoustic guitar backed by a mellow bass note that provides a sort of sparse platform for the acoustic guitar. Oh wow, the track breaks through to a really interesting and upbeat folksy movement for a moment before resolving back to the bluesy acoustic guitar. Oh wow, the song seems to gradually be building up again to the upbeat folksy section. Holy smokes, after the folksy section resolves to the bluesier sound again, there are some super sweet accentuations to the acoustic guitar from what sounds to be another acoustic guitar in a style that reminds me very much of Bert Jansch. Wow, great track.
“The Old Men of the Shells” begins with some bright traditional folk guitar that sounds like it could be narrating an old Scottish folktale. Oh wow, the vocals have a really soothing narrative feel. The song flows really nicely, especially as more layers seem to be gradually introduced. I really dig the tapping of the cymbals in the percussion of this track. There’s a super sweet acoustic guitar solo of sorts as well. Oh wow, I really dig the way some earthier background vocals come in and harmonize with Roberts’ sweet voice. Wow, super sweet tune.
“The Calfless Cow” begins with some very delicate folksy acoustic guitar that is soon joined by some super calming vocals from Roberts, as though Roberts is in some way singing a lullaby to finish off the album. Oh wow, there are some super sweet harmonizations between the vocals and the acoustic guitar in this track. Super sweet tune, and a great way to finish the album.
Holy smokes, I’m glad I checked out this album tonight. I can already say that I’m excited to check out more of Alasdair Roberts’ discography, whether that’s from his solo work or with other groups and musicians. I was reminded a lot of both Bert Jansch’s Scottish folk style, as well as Diane Cluck’s intuitive folk style with the natural flowing sound within each song. I was also reminded a bit of both Martin Carthy and Richard Thompson’s guitar work at times, and even a bit of the folk rock stylings of groups like Fairport Convention. If you’re into Scottish folk music at all, especially the stylings of artists like Bert Jansch, or the intuitive singer/songwriter folk stylings of artists like Diane Cluck, then you might want to consider checking out this album. If you do decide to give this album a listen, then I sincerely do hope that you enjoy the listening experience at least as much as I did.