Album review: Alasdair Roberts & Friends - A Wonder Working Stone

Alasdair Roberts - A Wonder Working Stone

Alasdair Roberts - A Wonder Working Stone - Credit: Archant

The dextrous musician and storyteller’s latest slides a pop pin into folk’s lapel. Splendid!

The prolific Roberts returns less than a year after Urstan, his foray into Gaelic folk music with Mairi Morrison.

Clearly not one for loneliness, he once more gathers some top Glasgow talent to lay down 10 of the most tuneful narratives you will hear this year.

From the outset in Merry Wake, Roberts reflects on mortality, life, love, sex, faith, history and his ‘sea-divided race’, his distinctive Scottish vocals and finger-picked guitar rarely far from a wonderfully composed fiddle that swoons and struts with poise throughout.

These are woven into a rich, nuanced tapestry of composition, with arrangements ranging from sea-shanty folk tales (The Year Of The Burning) to feathered nests of plaintive reflection (the male-female duet Fusion Of Horizons) and gentle accordion jig (The Wheels Of The World).

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Roberts treads the line between pop and trad folk with flair. His storytelling is original and vibrant, and warmth flows from every pore.

4 stars

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