# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Alasdair Roberts, Amble Skuse and David McGuinness - What News

  by Nicky Crewe

published: 10 / 5 / 2018

Alasdair Roberts, Amble Skuse and David McGuinness - What News
Label: Drag City
Format: CD


Superb twelfth album from critically acclaimed Scottish folk artist Alasdair Roberts, which finds him collaborating with electronic experimental musician Amble Skuse and music historian David McGuiness

'What News' is Alasdair Roberts’ twelfth solo album and his fourth to focus on traditional songs. He’s an artist who thrives on collaborations with other musicians, pushing the boundaries of his approach to Scottish and folk music past and present. While ‘What News’ is described as a solo album, he’s working with Amble Skuse, a sonologist whose work involves interactive electronic treatments, and David McGuiness, an early music scholar and historian and director of Concerto Caledonia. Alasdair Roberts has a long association with traditional music through family connections. He once had a residency at the School of Scottish Studies, resulting in a fantastic puppet show, ‘Galloshins’. He constantly transforms and changes as a musician, and is a wonderful ambassador for traditional music. His voice is perfectly suited to these traditional songs in tone and accent. The eight songs are ballads and narrative songs, some in dialect Scots. Some of the tales told are familiar. ‘Long A’Growing’ is a version of ‘The Trees They Do Grow High’. ‘The Flower of Northumberland’ is a gorgeous version of a well known song. The range of songs chosen tell traditional tales of love, murder and family interference. The arrangements are enhanced by Amble Skuse’s soundscapes which include bird song, distant voices and shots. The keyboard arrangements created by David McGuiness include an 1844 grand piano, a modern fortepiano and a 1920’s Dulcitone which plays hammers rather than strings. We are used to hearing traditional songs accompanied by an acoustic guitar. Listening to the keyboard accompaniments to these songs, I’m transported back to early recordings and arrangements made by folk song collectors such as Vaughan Williams and Percy Grainger at the beginning of the twentieth century. There’s something both familiar and charming about this approach. It’s not about nostalgia though. There’s room for the vocals to breathe and the songs get a new life. This is a welcome addition to Alasdair Roberts’ growing catalogue of recordings.

Track Listing:-
1 The Dun Broon Bride
2 Johnny O' The Brine
3 Young Johnstone
4 Rosie Anderson
5 The Fair Flower Of Northumberland
6 Clerk Colven
7 Babylon
8 Long A-Growing

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