Release Date: Aug 9, 2009
Record label: Domino
The folk music of Great Britain and Ireland is a marvelous thing, but those who love it best haven’t always been its greatest ambassadors. Perhaps inevitably in a genre that’s all about continuity with the past, folk artists have sometimes been weighed down by an excessive reverence for the source material, or stylistically straightjacketed by blind fidelity to a performng tradition. Not James Yorkston.
In the course of dutifully checking some dates pertaining to James Yorkston’s back catalogue, the man’s Wikipedia entry alerted me to his appearance on a compilation album released by V2 two years ago, entitled Acoustic 07. It features a Yorkston song alongside Paul Weller, Morcheeba, Aimee Mann and Rufus Wainwright, among many others whose reliance on ‘acoustic’ varies greatly. Although it blatantly exists to be purchased by the 12-CDs-a-year set, the fact that V2 saw fit to include our subject on said compilation isn’t in itself that surprising or unusual.
The Fife songsmith breathes new life into traditional songs cribbed from versions by the likes of Anne Briggs and Nic Jones. A lyrical treat..
One of the more intriguing folk albums of the summer comes from the former member of Scotland's Fence Collective, who is best known for his songwriting, but has long been a fan of folk music. Recorded with the strings of the Big Eyes Family Players, this is a reworking of often very well-known traditional songs that James Yorkston learned by listening to classic recordings from the 1960s folk revival, by the likes of the great Anne Briggs or Shirley and Dolly Collins. The result is a set that will impress fans of his laidback, often deadpan style - though he does vary the mood for a couple of tracks, including the pounding finale Low Down in the Broom.