It´s no big step from Joanna Newsom to Alasdair Roberts. They´re labelmates on Drag City, pals with and championed by Bonnie Will Oldham and they both operate in what some people call the freakfolk genre. The former Appendix Out vocalist is a lot less freaky than Newsom though, preferring a more traditional approach to folk. And that´s cool, too.
On my fave album of his for instance, the Scotsman shows a lot of reverence for ye olde ballads he takes on. Following in the footsteps of Shirley Collins, Planxty and Nic ´Penguin Eggs´ Jones, there´s not a trace of postmodern irony here. Tastefully and sparsely instrumentated in a no-frills Oldham production, No Earthly Man simply sounds pure and timeless. For proof, listen to the beautiful infanticide ballad The Cruel Mother, starring Isobel Campbell on cello and John McCusker on fiddle amongst others. "And the lion shall be lord of all..."
Alasdair Roberts - The Cruel Mother MP3