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Alasdair Roberts and James Green - Plaint of Lapwing

  by Keith How

published: 21 / 7 / 2016

Alasdair Roberts and James Green - Plaint of Lapwing
Label: Claypipe Music
Format: CD


Imaginative and charming collaborative album from Glasgow-based singer-songwriter Alasdair Roberts and the Big Eyes Family Players' James Green

Claypipe Music is a small independent label with a growing roster of impressive releases. 'Plaint of a Lapwing' is its latest offering and finds Glasgow’s Alasdair Roberts collaborating with Sheffield-based James Green (Big Eyes Family Players). Roberts and Green struck up an unlikely friendship and composed this album from a series of sketches and ideas. In using email to exchange thoughts and mixes over a couple of years, the artists developed this fully-fledged offering. Presented with a beautifully illustrated cover created by label owner Frances Castle, 'Plaint of a Lapwing' is delightful. Knowingly or unknowingly Roberts and Green have captured a sense of times past and conjured up a magical ambience. Imagine stumbling across a forgotten wayside inn with an open fire, old chairs and good ale. In one corner musicians, unconcerned by any visitors, are playing these songs, and the gentle tunes ebb and flow soothing the spirit. Roberts, of course, is an exemplary guitarist. A recent support slot for Joanna Newsom in Manchester was terrific, and here he accompanies his slightly fragile-sounding vocals with that same wonderful technique. James Green is the conduit for an alchemy that transports this record beyond the ordinary, weaving magical and intuitive embellishments and melodies that entwine around Roberts’ guitar work. Green works his magic in various guises but the “Harmoniflute” is particularly effective. In a world where everything is hurried 'Plaint' is a genuine treasure, evoking simpler times. Opening tune 'Ananke' is a bright start that bubbles and sparkles like a mountain stream. Roberts' delivery is lively counterpointed by the lilting arrangement, while 'Peacock Strut' has a more traditional air. There is a more contemporary feel found on 'The Left-Hand Man', a strange tale full of odd characters. 'Boy of Blazing Brow' has just enough menace to remind us that things are not always how they seem. A strong double bass urges the composition on in a hypnotic manner, while ghostly keyboards from James Green bring a real depth to the arrangement and is a fine example of “contemporary “ folk music. Occasionally 'Plaint of a Lapwing' has the ambience of an old church hymnal, which is highlighted by the minimal production. The listener cannot escape the sense of serenity that infuses the whole project. A fine example of the chemistry between Roberts and Green is highlighted on 'The Wronged Blacksmith'. The sensitive arrangement rolls along with simple keyboard (or is that the Harmoniflute) and the sense of reflection found in Roberts’ vocals is quite engaging. 'Plaint of a Lapwing' is an imaginative and charming creation. Miss it at your peril.

Track Listing:-
1 Anankë
2 Peacock Strut
3 At the Mid Hour of Night
4 If There is Any Light
5 The Evening is Growing Dim
6 The Left-Hand Man
7 Boy of Blazing Brow
8 Ballad of the Speaking Heart
9 Plaint of Lapwing
10 The Wronged Blacksmith
11 Hallowe'en

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