Release Date: Mar 22, 2005
Record label: Drag City
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Folk, Singer-Songwriter
Scottish singer/songwriter Alasdair Roberts has been quietly resurrecting the organic British folk of late-'60s and early-'70s traditionalists like Planxty and Dick Gaughan since his 1996 debut with the rural-folk combo Appendix Out. Like his American counterpart and frequent collaborator Will Oldham, his songs belong in neither the past nor the present, rather they cling to the listener like the ghosts of a sepia-toned future. On the quietly electrifying No Earthly Man, Roberts takes on eight classic murder ballads from the British Isles with dizzying results.
Ironic, perhaps, to follow an album called Farewell Sorrow with a collection of murder ballads. Alasdair Roberts' third solo album since the demise of his band Appendix Out draws, like its predecessors, on the British folk tradition. But this selection of eight shaggy-dog stories - unravelling at an appropriately funereal pace - lacks the dynamism and subtlety of Farewell Sorrow.
Hey everybody – and I do mean everybody – let’s hear it for death, survival’s troubled cousin. An equalizer beyond compare, death provides us with what I’d imagine is the closest feeling we ever get to pure objectivity. Of course, the eyewitnesses ain’t talkin’, which gives the capital “D” a mystique beyond love’s. Thus, in its dark wake, it carries the greatest storytelling tradition of them all.