James Yorkston & The Big Eyes Family Players – Folk Songs
Domino Records 2009
Listen while reading:
Some records just have adequate titels and the newest release from Scottish musician James Yorkston is one of them because it’s simply called Folk Songs. The idea behind the album came to live in 2000/2001 when Yorkston decided to record traditional songs from around the area of Ireland and Great Britain. He also wanted to go one step back with his music after “a decade which has seen folk music morph into nu-folk, mobile phone-ad folk, mortgage-folk, smoothie-folk and so on.1” For I am not in the mood to discuss the terms used I just go along with them and think it’s a good thing to do because Folk Songs is just damn good.
Yorkston decided to record the tracks together with The Big Eyes Family Players, an ensemble from Sheffield/Great Britain that combines modern composition and folk. After James Yorkston asked James Green, the main guy behind TBEFP, for his support, Green was more than happy to do so and so they started recording the tracks…again. I say again because Yorkston had them recorded and released before on different EPs. But by the assistance of TBEFP they got a whole new character and so this decision was just the right thing.
The combination of Yorkston’s gentle and natural voice, his guitar play and the rich and varied orchestration done by TBEFP creates an absolutely amazing record growing on you everytime you listen to it. Nearly every track sounds different, got it’s own character so to say. Sometimes you find sad and sorrowful ballads (Sovay), more psychedelic tracks like Thorneymoor Woods or full on indie folk interpretations as in Low Down In The Broom. But at no point they loose the spirit of the original songs and this is soemthing what makes the record special.
Folk Songs is a brilliant collection of interpretations sung by the very folky voice of James Yorkston supported by the superb performance of The Big Eyes Family Players. Imagine yourself standing on a big green grassland in good old Ireland and a fresh breeze is blowing right in your face – Folk Songs is the soundtrack you want to listen to, be sure.
To purchase the album, visit Domino Records for the limited 3 disc edition (including alternate takes and a live dvd) (I’m not quite sure if the lim. ed. is still available) or buy your MP3s over at iTunes (and get a bonus track). Whatever you do, don’t miss to get your hands on it.