James Yorkston – ‘When The Haar Rolls In’

Fife bard’s fourth stretches his sonic palette, if not his vocals

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Yorkston has proved one of the most lyrical writers of the British folk upsurge, capturing fleeting moments of romantic intimacy amid brooding landscapes – lovers damp from the rain before a cottage fire, say. His problem is a limited vocal range that renders too many songs as soundalikes. This self-produced fourth outing overcomes his limitations with thoughtful arrangements of strings, piano, woodwind and more, while female voices further sweeten his mournful tones. On “Tortoise Regrets Hare” he switches to a kind of folk-rap over bare acoustic bones of guitar and droning squeezebox, and the title track, evoking North Sea mists, rattles a lover’s tortured tale to a great swell of sound. There’s a rowdy version of Lal Waterson’s “Midnight Feast”, with the Waterson family on board, but Yorkston’s best moments are often his quietest, like the confessional “The Capture of The Horse”. Masterful stuff.

NEIL SPENCER

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