Authenticity is one of the great over-rated qualities in music. But there’s no harm in a bit of study and knowledge. Alasdair Roberts’ route into recording might have been through passing a tape to Will Oldham, but that doesn’t stop him having a more traditional edge than many of his contemporaries and collaborators.
Recorded with Stevie Jones and Trembling Bells’ Alex Neilson, Pangs is a fascinating collection that holds the old (hints of Greensleeves in the opening tune), the classic (Fairportesque ebullience abounds) and the sort-of-modern (New Dawn Song could sit on any of the Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy albums of the last decade). For all the firmly trad feel, the other stand outs include The Angry Laughing God which moves on on from its “childlessness is no disgrace” refrain to end on some sha-la-laing, of all things. And Songs of the Marvels with its dark Watersonsisms emphasised with some faintly doom-laden synth rumbles before changing tack entirely for its middle eight.
What it adds up to is a collection of songs that meld a scholarly weight with a warmth and engagement that ought to reward anyone with a yen for a folk tune, authentic or not.
Of course this sort of thing was born and breathes in the live performanec – you can catch Alasdair Roberts at the following spots:
23rd LONDON Cafe Oto
24th READING South Street Arts Centre
25th BARTON-ON-HUMBER Ropery Hall
26th COLCHESTER Arts Centre
27th NEWCASTLE Cumberland Arms
28th SHEFFIELD (venue tbc)
1st EDINBURGH House Concert
2nd GLASGOW The Glad Cafe
5th PRESTON The Continental
15th COVENTRY Warwick Arts Centre
16th HEREFORD The Courtyard
17th CARMARTHEN The Parrot
18th PLYMOUTH B-Bar
23rd STROUD Prince Albert
24th BODMIN Folk Club