Alasdair Roberts “The Fiery Margin” (Drag City Records, 2019)

Alasdair Roberts continues his exploration of traditional song structures, melodies, and instrumentation with a foot – and an ear – in the present with his latest, ‘The Fiery Margin.’ Joined again by bassist Stevie Jones and Alex Neilson on percussion, Roberts expands his sound, and deepens the traditional touch, with the addition of Irish violist Ailbhe nic Oireachtaigh. Together they form a sound that’s both timeless and relevant to these times. Traditional Scottish, English, and Irish forms lay a perfect foundation for Roberts’s expressive vocals.

The Fiery Margin,’ recorded at Anchor Lane Studios in Glasgow by Luigi Pasquini, also includes unexpected instrumentation, such as sublime steel guitar work and a manic saxophone on ‘The Stranger with the Scythe.’ Waltzes and rhythms sway and weave, such as on the accordion-fueled ‘Actors‘ (provided by Neil Sutcliffe).

Common Clay,’ featuring vocals from Mary Hampton and, once more, Sutcliffe’s accordion, is a highlight and is the best example of how this record marries a deep love of traditionalism with a sly nod to the present day.

The Fiery Margin‘ continues Alasdair Roberts’s journey through timeless sounds of the folk tradition and is a truly immersive experience.

Traditional folk emphasizing English, Scottish, and Irish textures
7/10

Author: Mike Elliott

A husband, father, writer, musician, former disc jockey and radio program director, lover of bad jokes, Dylan fanatic, and an all-around pretty good guy.

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