posted January 3rd, 2013

Let the trumpets blare! Ring thy balalaikas, or whatever the most lute-like device in your chest of instruments may be! It is time once again for our man from the north country to sing his piece. Alasdair Roberts is back on record, and as is his wont these days, he's brought friends to the table. A Wonder Working Stone is his new solo album - but in truth, Alasdair Roberts is never alone. His records are about many, many things - but at their heart, they are about the effects and responsibilities of communities, and what lives lived within society dictate and imply.

As he sings his views on worlds both new and old, Roberts lays his licks down into a mix bursting with life - specifically the life brought by people playing together for the profit of fun and the insight that playing together brings. As has ever been thus, damn your earbud-wearin', nobody's-world-but-mine hides! A voyager deep into the catalog of the traditional song of his native Scotland (and the other interrelated native lands; in other words, all of them), Alasdair has spent the last ten years doing an album of original songs and then making an album of traditionals, back and forth like that. In the early days of this method, his songs were short and almost poppy.

With 2009's Spoils, his habitual placement of feet in both worlds was beginning to inspire a new kind of song and dance - and Alasdair's music became much more dense and original, pushing on the boundaries of song as he strove to cross borders with music and lyrics in an attempt to divine the headwaters of this songwriting inspiration back in the mists of time. Of course, his skills as a melodist are unbowed by the change, however otherwise mutated they may be - and along with the guitars and pipes and horns and voices ringing forth from A Wonder Working Stone and the fluidity of his thoughts and words, these are some of our favorite things about Alasdair Roberts. However, it is possible that Ali's melodies were never sweeter than back in the days of his first solo foray on Drag City, Farewell Sorrow, released in the spring of 2003.

Given the weight of the ten years that have passed since then, we thought it would be a good - nay, a great thing- to bring the LP and CD back into the public currency. And so, they are. If you haven't reached back there, now you can, and we wish you would. So that's the present (sort of - A Wonder Working Stone drops on 1/22/13, which is so soon in the future as to seem like a part of the present if you stand back a bit and squint yer eyes) and the past (Hello Farewell Sorrow!). What does the future of Alasdair Roberts bring? More songs, a course - from the mists of the past as well as the future, and all of them played for people high and low. And not just in merry olde, but also on the continent of Europe and hopefully back on this shores for the first time in several years. The man is a treasure, and the world deserves their glimpse of him almost as much as he deserves his of us.

And Laird bless him, he's a pitchman too! And a candidate for the next Muppet Movie, by the looks of this promo clip, where Alasdair lulls his good friend Dr. Brown to sleep with a simple explanation of the contents of A Wonder Working Stone. Take a look - and then take your hard-earned cash down to the record-derry, like the lad says, and buy yourself a nice, real copy of A Wonder Working Stone. Ey-up!

Artists in this story: Alasdair Roberts