Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sun Shines Down On Carlisle Wall

It´s no big step from Joanna Newsom to Alasdair Roberts. They´re labelmates on Drag City, pals with and championed by Bonnie Will Oldham and they both operate in what some people call the freakfolk genre. The former Appendix Out vocalist is a lot less freaky than Newsom though, preferring a more traditional approach to folk. And that´s cool, too.

On my fave album of his for instance, the Scotsman shows a lot of reverence for ye olde ballads he takes on. Following in the footsteps of Shirley Collins, Planxty and Nic ´Penguin Eggs´ Jones, there´s not a trace of postmodern irony here. Tastefully and sparsely instrumentated in a no-frills Oldham production, No Earthly Man simply sounds pure and timeless. For proof, listen to the beautiful infanticide ballad The Cruel Mother, starring Isobel Campbell on cello and John McCusker on fiddle amongst others. "And the lion shall be lord of all..."

Alasdair Roberts - The Cruel Mother MP3


Thomas said...

You have an excellent blog here.

This is the first time I've really listened to Alisdair Roberts, and this is quite a beautiful song. I initially thought it was kinda plain and uninteresting, but it gets quite harrowing and disturbing (in a good way) with the string arrangement, and the insistent focus on the "Carlisle Wall". It's haunting in a way that goes beyond simple guilt.
I think I'd like the song better, though, if it ended at 5:40. The last verse takes some of the power out of it, I think.

Ramone666 said...

Thanks Thomas. ´Haunting in a way that goes beyond simple guilt´: I like that. Goes for many of these old ballads.