Farewell Sorrow Review

artist: Alasdair Roberts date: 07/04/2007 category: compact discs
Alasdair Roberts: Farewell Sorrow
Release Date: Apr 22, 2003
Label: Drag City
Genres: Neo-Traditional Folk, Singer/Songwriter, Indie Rock
Number Of Tracks: 12
Farewell Sorrow is built on the art of restraint and elastic delicacy provided by Roberts' band to bring together the traditional institution of melody and the advance into unmarked territory, and they are wonderfully successful at transforming that steady artistic bridge into a refreshing package.
 Sound: 5
 Lyrics: 7
 Overall Impression: 7
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overall: 6.3
Farewell Sorrow Reviewed by: *Truly Ninja*, on july 04, 2007
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Alasdair Roberts, who opened for the acclaimed literary harpist Joanna Newsom on one of her recent US tours, caught my attention with his twisted takes on traditional Scottish folk songs, as well as his particularly deft folk-guitar style. The arrangements on "Farewell Sorrow", one of the earliest albums released under Roberts' name, are often sparse, and his technical dexterity is not always apparent through the sometimes simple song structures. However, song after song presents itself with arresting, subtle beauty. The album's first track, "Farewell Sorrow" accompanies it's chilly ode to death with simple minor-key arpeggios. "Slowly Growing Old" softly plays a sweet, major-key melody while a chorus of Scottish voices repeat the refrain. // 5

Lyrics: While Roberts often borrows lyrics and thematic elements from traditional Scottish folk songs and ballads, his personal lyric style leans toward the depraved and slightly unsettling method pioneered by the USA's Will Oldham (Bonnie 'Prince' Billy) and Jason Molina (Songs: Ohia). The lyrics hold a grotesque beauty, and Roberts' voice sells the slightly twisted themes with ease. // 7

Overall Impression: This album meets its two main influences at a very interesting juncture. It manages to meld traditional Scottish balladry, which yields more dark themes than one might expect, with the unsettling folk style of Will Oldham. Roberts' evident musicianship and strong vocal style open up the world of traditional Scottish music to a diverse pool of listeners. This album is not a masterpiece, but it is a quiet success that may hook your ears for more time than you even realize. // 7

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