In his nearly thirty year-long career, Alasdair Roberts has gained a well-deserved reputation as one of the most refined and accomplished singer songwriters on the British folk scene. His latest and highly anticipated album Grief in the Kitchen and Mirth in the Hall totally confirms that.
His albums are generally made of either entirely self-penned songs, or all traditional material. This new release belongs to the second category, but it has a profound and modern feel thanks to the thoughtful choice of the lyrics. From gender inequality to social injustice, from forced marriage to emigration, these old songs have been carefully selected to represent some of the themes which are still discussed today and that are sadly still very relevant.
The delicacy of Roberts’ singing is well known worldwide; here he also shows that it’s possible to experiment in a subtle way. With the accompaniment of a guitar, or only a piano in a few cases, he delivers these timeless tales with apparent passion and surprising spontaneity. And yet these stripped-back but effective settings are never predictable, sometimes taking a few listens to discover the intricacy of some of their passages and the multi-layered nature of their structure.
This album is exactly what anybody would expect reading the name on its cover and the track listing. A refreshing take on some traditional pieces, and its deep meaning for our times only makes it all the more interesting for the listener.Michele Mele
Released on 1 April 2023 on CD, LP and digitally on Drag City Records.
1. The Wonderful Grey Horse
2. Eppie Morrie
4. The Lichtbob’s Lassie
5. Young Airly
6. Bob Norris
8. The Convict Maid
9. The Bonny Moorhen
10. The Baron O’Brackley
11. Mary Mild
12. The Holland Handkerchief