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Alasdair Roberts - The Amber Gatherers

Compared to the positively maudlin Will Oldham produced No Earthly Man, Alasdair Roberts' much lauded collection of traditional death ballads, The Amber Gatherers is a much more upbeat release of self-penned earthy folk ballads. Since splitting Appendix Out Alasdair Roberts has established himself as one of the most refreshing acts in the current folk vanguard. On The Amber Gatherers Roberts creates his own mythical landscape as a basis for his poetic musings on human frailty, nature and his inherent disdain for modern culture and its soulless trappings. In almost archaic fashion his lyrics are peppered with references to nature, its wildlife and its habitats, whilst conjuring up images of age-old sailors, fishermen and farmers toiling their wares, ensuring his songs transcend any fixed time period. His songs are steeped in tradition, awash with tragedy and suffering, but he's no traditionalist or luddite. Here aided by Teenage Fanclub's Gerard Love and International Airport's Tom Crossley and Gareth Eggie - musicians not normaly associated with folk or traditional song - Roberts soft Scottish burr and charming acoustic settings, are accompanied by passages of banjo and accordion and the occasional twang of countrifyed guitar. Among the finer moments of The Amber Gatherers are the opening 'Riddle Me This' its sweet melody couching Roberts betrayal of our ancestors; the hopeful 'Where Twines The Path' and the watery sacrifice of 'The Old Men of the Shells'. None, however, can compete with the sublime 'Waxwing', with its willing acceptance of death as part of nature's cycle, which, like much of The Amber Gatherers, shows that a pagan spirit flows through the blood of this young Scottish singer. And if that's not reason enough to recommend this to Compulsion online readers, then frankly it is your loss. For more information go to