English folkie shows what tasteful musicianship is all about
James Yorkston's third album proves it's hard to be humble. Because if it were as easy and natural as he makes it sound, we'd have more albums like this one, where instrumental parts do only what the songs ask of them, the lyrics are crystalline marvels, the singing is wonderfully sympathetic, and the production never draws undue attention to itself. Using Yorkston's mournfully melodic fingerpicking and warm, breathy voice as a foundation, Leopard is content to make the most of what it's got—vocals float together in multi-tracked harmony as the guitar flits about, and clever touches like clarinet, bass, and subtle electronics frame the hushed, folky melodies. Everything is perfectly weighted. It's all wonderful stuff, equally at home echoing over a sun-dappled meadow or bouncing off a rainy high-rise window; it's the aural equivalent of spending a day in the country after a week of traffic jams.