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Mournful folkie not quite as desolate as usual.
Ed Power, 11 Aug 2009
Fife folkie James Yorkston has spent his entire career channelling misery and heartache so it’s a surprise that, on his second album in nine months, he’s in an almost upbeat frame of mind. Maybe that’s because none of the numbers here are his – Folk Songs is a collection of Irish, British and Galician folk tunes, though all are so obscure that they could pass for Yorkston originals. Certainly, he hasn’t been afraid to bend the material to his purposes: the brisk, banjo-propelled ‘Mary Connaught And James O’Donnell’ incorporates nineteenth century lyrics but Yorkston, upon learning the original melody had been lost forever, composed his own. Not all of the LP is quite so revelatory – ‘Hills Of Greenmoor’ is as bleak as any of his own compositions while ‘Low Down In The Broom’ is so damp with ennui you might catch a cold off it. Generally, however, he wears its woes lightly – indeed, it’s probably the first album Yorkston has ever written that didn’t make you want to go for a quiet mope in the woods afterwards. Whether that’s a good or bad thing will depend on the listener.