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No Earthly Man

Alasdair Roberts

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Album Review

Scottish singer/songwriter Alasdair Roberts has been quietly resurrecting the organic British folk of late-'60s and early-'70s traditionalists like Planxty and Dick Gaughan since his 1996 debut with the rural-folk combo Appendix Out. Like his American counterpart and frequent collaborator Will Oldham, his songs belong in neither the past nor the present, rather they cling to the listener like the ghosts of a sepia-toned future. On the quietly electrifying No Earthly Man, Roberts takes on eight classic murder ballads from the British Isles with dizzying results. Unlike Oldham, Roberts can actually sing, and it's his fluid and affecting tenor that makes each one of these brutal and long-winded tales of love, treachery and death so listenable. This is "old-school" British folk in the vein of Steeleye Span's Parcel of Rogues — Oldham's warm production relies heavily on a combination of cello, percussion, guitar, fiddle, harp, dulcimer and the occasional synth — that despite its bloody subject matter manages to engage on multiple emotional levels. For every moody cut, like the fratricide ballad "Two Brothers," there's an "Admiral Cole," a shipwreck tale that's positively lilting. Roberts and Oldham keep things loose and contemporary with off-key harmonicas and random bursts of guitar feedback, but the effect never comes off as anything less then authentic. No Earthly Man mimics the best of the genre as well as it updates it, resulting in an overall sensation of sitting in a darkened theater listening to the aforementioned Planxty's "Well Below the Valley" set against the closing credits of a Wicker Man remake.

Customer Reviews

Dont Listen to that other guy.

I first heard about Alasdair Roberts when I saw the Decemberists play live in Columbus and he opened for them. I personally like his style of music, they are just old scottish folk songs. It may not be everyones cup of tea, but if you buy any of the songs from the album, I would probably have to reccomend Molly Bawn. Although, I must say... In concert his music is a bit rough. He performed On the Banks of Red Roses completely acapella. I did not think it was too bad, but a bit dissappointing.

Wonderful scottish folk

A great set of scottish ballads and dirges, as the review said, fans of Will Oldham or traditional folk music (or both) will probably enjoy this.

Beautiful

Just beautiful sweet and melodic

Biography

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...
Full Bio