Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 09:15PM
soundscapes in Folk/Singer-songwriter

A Wonder Working Stone marks Alasdair Roberts' first full-length of original tunes since 2009's brilliant Spoils, and carries well the influence of his two albums of traditional music made along the way. A generous helping of borrowed melodies find his charmingly morbid songs in more varied settings than ever before, albeit still anchored by Roberts' unique fingerpicking and a sympathetic band.

"Alasdair Roberts' musical foundations extend deep into the bedrock of the traditional folk of Scotland and the British Isles. Fuelled by restless curiosity and a scholar's attention to detail, Roberts has long split his attentions between interpretations of traditional material and his own original songs, while often leaving blurry the distinction between the two. On A Wonder Working Stone, his first collection of all original material since 2009's Spoils, the line separating the traditional from the personal is purposefully left fuzzier than ever. Stray bits and pieces from old fiddle tunes and Scottish bagpipe marches are woven tightly with Roberts' thorny lyrics to create elaborate, raucous medleys that can seem almost like a tin-can-and-string phone connection between the past and the present." - Pitchfork

"A master of mesmeric laments, Roberts can conjure dusky cemetery air in a twitching of his fingers or sombre exhalation, yet A Wonder Working Stone offers high spirits in the gloaming as well as low. I suspect only he could rhyme abracadabra with 'intact cadaver'but embracing life and the living requires toleration of misdeed and acceptance of mortality, appreciation that love survives time. All days will end, and it must be hoped they’ll end in joy." - The Line of Best Fit

Article originally appeared on Soundscapes - 572 College Street Toronto (
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