Alasdair Roberts – Farewell Sorrow

Alasdair Roberts
Farewell Sorrow

This is the second record under Alasdair Roberts’ own name; his first was a collection of traditional folk songs. This is the supposed follow up to the last Appendix Out record, as it has many of the same musicians throughout the record. This time out, Roberts is penning these compositions, yet they have a sound of the past and Roberts’ musical influences, some of which he adds portions of to his originals. Roberts’ mournful accented vocals are captivating as usual ,and the backing is very subtle and adds to the grace of the songs.

“Farewell Sorrow” starts the disc off with a mournful dirge carried along by Roberts’ aching voice and Tom Crossley’s piano twinkling. This song certainly states the mood and sound of this disc as any good leadoff track should do, and you know what you should be expecting from this point on. “Join Our Lusty Chorus” is a great upbeat song clearly with a foothold in English folk traditions, as it incorporates a part of a traditional tune in its tale. There is some great violin work present here, as well as some understated guitar playing, making this rowdy (or as rowdy as it’s going to get) song very enjoyable. “I Fell in Love” is a sparse, lovely piece with slightly picked guitar and neat unaccredited instrumentation, as the instruments are mentioned within the song. Roberts voice is breathtaking here, and the subtlety that he is accompanied by makes that even more obvious; it’s wonderful to hear music as rooted and graceful as this.

“Down Where the Willow Wands Weep” has some pleasant guitar playing carrying this bright song with some shuffling and tapping drum work. Roberts sounds downright joyous here, giving the song a different feel than the rest as it fades away. “The Whole House is Singing” carries some rolling guitar work that is some of the most beautiful to behold. This song has a clear classical folk structure with haunting melodies and space playing a crucial role in the setting of the song. “Slowly Growing Old” closes the disc in a great manner, as the song is only Roberts on guitar while the other contributors blurting out responses to Roberts. The song is the perfect ending to this disc , closing out a graceful disc with as timeless a song as this one.

Roberts and company shine on every song, creating a masterpiece of a disc. Roberts shows that he is perfectly capable of carrying on English and Scottish folk traditions as good or better than anyone out there. The songs on this disc will leave you feeling many emotions – be it heartache or happiness, you will surely be feeling something. The disc has some variation in it as well; though some people may have a hard time getting through all the beauty, it’s well worth the effort. Rarely has a CD this graceful, subtle, and beautiful been released, Roberts makes it feel like these are long lost folk songs from centuries before, making this disc even more extraordinary. Roberts has clearly made one of the top discs of the year, and he should be commended for it.