Alasdair Roberts - The Fiery Margin (LP)
Alasdair Roberts' approach as a singer and songwriter, now halfway through its third decade, has been devoted to the history of traditional songs, playing them forward into our ever-evolving world as their meanings continue to evolve as well. Whether singing the auld songs, using inspiration from a line of text, or taking a time-honoured air as a starting point to a new song, he has pushed the tradition ahead in ways that few other singers and writers have approached. On The Fiery Margin, he taps the percussive elan of Alex Neilson (Trembling Bells") and the expansive bass playing of Stevie Jones, who have paired together with him on a couple of previous albums. On their previous encounter, Pangs, Alasdair focused on electric guitar, which gave the music a lean and wild quality that drew comparisons to the British folk scene of the classic rock era. The Fiery Margin moves fluidly from acoustic to electric guitars while adding the nimble playing of Irish violist Ailbhe nic Oireachtaigh to embody and expand the parameters of the material. Additional players bring touches of accordion, pedal steel guitar, saxophone and barbershop vocals (!), aiding Alasdair's process of excavating the mysterious roots of our shared music from a consonant, yet still enigmatic depth.