Alasdair Roberts Spoils

Alasdair Roberts Spoils
For all the tendencies of British folk musicians to lose themselves in twee mysticism, when an artist as melodically gifted as Alasdair Roberts gets things right, it suddenly shows how unimaginative the vast majority of contemporary singer-songwriters actually are. Spoils is the Scot's formal follow-up to the Will Oldham-produced No Earthly Man, and it continues in that spirit, presenting eight engagingly complex odes to ancient texts, transfiguration, scurvy dreams and other occurrences both natural and otherworldly. Things get overwhelming in a hurry with opening epic "The Flyting of Grief & Joy (Eternal Return)," but once faith is established to allow Roberts to guide you through the unfamiliar landscape he has conjured it becomes nearly impossible to resist the pull of Spoils. Credit for this also goes to Roberts' backing band, which are never intrusive, instead building songs like "The Book Of Doves" from sparse fables into swirling, neo-psych excursions. By closer "Under No Enchantment (But My Own)," it's as if we awake from Roberts' dream with him, as he intones his pronouncement on what it all means: "An empty-handed hunter coming home," over and over. Simply stunning. (Drag City)