Alasdair Roberts A Wonder Working Stone

Alasdair Roberts A Wonder Working Stone
8
For nearly two decades, the Glasgow-based Roberts has been making music drawn from his Gaelic heritage, ranging from strangely compelling to simply mystifying. He reached a creative peak in 2009 with Spoils, an album that matched Joanna Newsom's best work, in terms of transcendence. A Wonder Working Stone follows Roberts' last release, Too Long in this Condition, a more accessible collection of traditional material, and the new album also displays the artist's folk-rocking side, thanks to a tight backing group. At the same time, A Wonder Working Stone retains the elements that made Spoils so magical, mostly in Roberts' poetry, which expands greatly upon traditional themes of lost love, death and spirituality. All are covered within the album's opening quartet of tracks: "The Merry Wake," "The Year of the Burning," "Fusion of Horizons" and "The Wheels of the World." The rough-hewn tones, particularly Roberts' thick burr, require some listening adjustment for those unaccustomed to his style, but within his songs, the keen ear can easily detect the traits that helped establish the North American folk tradition in the 19th century. Roberts continues to sound like a man unbound by time. (Drag City)