Alasdair Roberts | The Fiery Margin

Alasdair Roberts | The Fiery Margin

LP

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Drag City
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DC742

Down the years, Alasdair Roberts has devoted himself to the history of
traditional songs, playing them forward into our ever-evolving world as their
meanings continue to evolve within him. 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.

Since his first two solo releases, namely a collection of traditional songsfollowed by one of original material, Alasdair has followed this pattern more
or less over the course of a dozen albums. The ‘Fiery Margin’ follows 2018’s
‘What News’, a collaboration with David McGuinness and Amble Skuse that
took eight Scots ballads and focused them through the use of vintage
keyboards and modern electronic techniques to make something new that
was also in the tradition. Thus, ‘The Fiery Margin’ is a new collection of
originals, some of which draw elements from the songs, singing and thought
of the last couple of millennia.

Alasdair’s impulse to communicate nuanced historical arcana in his music is
matched with an ability to do so compactly in song, turning, say, a 1000- year-old Irish text on the mysteries of creation and apocalypse, or the
peregrinatory journal of a mediaeval English mystic, into something with
which we can all sing along. He’s been doing it long enough and with
enough other fine players and singers to intuit what a set of songs might
benefit from. On ‘The Fiery Margin’ he taps the percussive elan of Alex
Neilson 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’ has a diverse sound design, moving 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
enduringly mysterious roots of our shared music at a consonant, yet still
enigmatic depth.

Recorded by Luigi Pasquini at Anchor Lane Studios in Glasgow, ‘The Fiery
Margin’ has the distinction of being an exceptional recital whose origins
could be ascribed to traditional Scottish, Irish and English music, not to
mention the sounds of the world beyond. Alasdair Roberts is an underrated
talent - one that we imagine will sound even better in the gifted ears of
generations to come.


A1 False Flesh
A2 The Evernew Tongue
A3 Europe
A4 Comments
A5 A Keen
B1 The Stranger With The Scythe
B2 Actors
B3 Common Clay
B4 Learning Is Eternal
B5 The Untrue Womb