HE’S GRACED us with a very Northern European and delicious take on introspective folk since that trio of lovely albums, The Rye Bears A Poison, Daylight Saving and The Night Is Advancing as Appendix Out, beginning back in ’97; and it should come as no surprise that a man whose music arguably sounds best with the intimacy of a winter’s night, huddled around the fire and keeping the dreich and shadows at bay, should be releasing a new album, his nineteenth in all, with a collective of musicians from Norway, where folk also has that resonance of big, harsh landscapes and lives lived against such a canvas of the elements.
In January 2019, at the invitation of fiddler Hans Kjorstad, Alasdair departed Glasgow, to travel to Oslo, where the two convened with another five additional Scandinavian musicians at Riksscenen, Oslo’s centre for Norwegian traditional arts and music. The group was named Völvur (The Seeresses), a reference to the ancient Icelandic apocalyptic text, Völuspá (The Prophecy of the Seeress) and with Alasdair, some fine folk was fused.
And that album comes announced right this very minute with a first single, “The Green Chapel”, which, conceptually, touches upon the Gaelic Celtic notion of “the three noble strains” of music: geantraí, goltraí and suantraí – respectively, joy, lamentation and sleep – the triple goddess from which the fabric of a music is woven.
And in the video below, as a sneak taster, Alasdair leads us through a solo take on the deep beauty of “The Green Chapel”, weaving a fine cloth of folk with his fine picking, plaintive voice and a sense of tradition. Should be a cracking album; but then, what Alasdair Roberts album isn’t?
Alasdair Roberts og Völvur’s The Old Fabled River will be released by Drag City on July 23rd digitally, on CD and on vinyl; and can be ordered in your preferred format here.