Alasdair Roberts: Spoils
Scottish band turns on electricity
The crashing drums, doomsday harmonium and tortured electric guitar sound completely appropriate on Spoils’ “Hazel Forks”—remarkable, considering that the Alasdair Roberts original possesses all the hallmarks of a traditional folk ballad. This is exactly what troubadour Roberts accomplishes on his fifth solo album: He takes his homeland’s countryside and plugs it into the 21st century. His voice and fingerpicking tend toward the haunting, enduring folk melodies he’s explored on previous albums, but the backing here ranges from a sweet violin for “Under No Enchantment (But My Own)” to a percussive thunderstorm for “Ned Ludd’s Rant (For A World Rebarbarised),” where the players sound like they might’ve had too much to drink, as they scramble through a progressive-rock instrumental patch. Despite the cool harpsichords, glockenspiels, flutes and dulcimers, it’s Roberts’ mournful voice that leads the songs to their rightful resting places.
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