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The Amber Gatherers

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Album Review

On 2005's No Earthly Man, Scottish singer/songwriter Alasdair Roberts offered up eight traditional ballads with minimal accompaniment. That he pulled it off without nailing the listeners eyes shut within the first two minutes is a testament to both his gift as an interpreter, and his reedy, yet impossibly fluid and melodious voice. On the Amber Gatherers, Roberts balances regional folk songs with his own self-penned odes to heartache, death and drink, successfully blurring the line between the two like a young Nic Jones or Martin Carthy. A full band is employed this time around, and their lightly brushed drums, fingerpicked guitars, accordions, and backing vocals wrap themselves around Roberts' careful phrasing like a winter coat. Standout tracks such as "I Had a Kiss of the King's Hand," "Cruel War" and "Old Men of the Shells" sound like lost cuts from the late-'60s and early-'70s British folk heydays, and a hand-drawn map of the U.K. with songtitles for cities, as well as a handy tuning chart that explains where to capo your guitar for each song, gives the whole affair a rustic, communal vibe that manages to avoid feeling contrived.


Born: Swabia, Germany

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Scottish songwriter Alasdair Roberts' career as a recording artist sprang into a critically lauded, cult-praised profession when a demo he made with his group Appendix Out found its way into the hands of intimate nouveau folkie Will Oldham. Oldham identified with Appendix Out's similarly calculated sound enough that he released their first recording, the 7" titled Ice Age/Pissed with You, on his own Palace Records label in 1996. The momentum from this release's affiliation with Oldham sparked not...
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The Amber Gatherers, Alasdair Roberts
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