Alasdair Roberts No Earthly Man

A glance at the songs on this collection gives an immediate indication that this isn’t a party record. Scotsman Roberts has dug deep into the British death ballad tradition for these eight tracks, and for all the inherent morbidity, No Earthly Man is a delicately moving experience. Along for the funeral procession is the Oldham brothers, Will and Paul, and the general hushed tones will appeal to any fan of their Palace material. Belle & Sebastian’s Isobel Campbell also contributes some nice cello work that complements the use of instruments such as harp, flute and dulcimer throughout the album. But what is most impressive is Roberts’ choice in song; most are far from the normal traditional tunes that have been covered ad nauseum. Instead, songs like "Lord Ronald” and "Molly Bawn” provide new glimpses into the rich songbook of the British Isles, and in these interpretations sound remarkably contemporary. Any fan of classic Fairport Convention or Iron & Wine should seek this out. (Drag City)