JAMES YORKSTON AND THE ATHLETES

Others may have arrived at folk music with an eye on low cost forms of self-expression or as access to an encounter group where a battered guitar and an ability to wail ensure you of an in; but James Yorkston has always kept his own counsel. Though his records started appearing around the time of a renewed interest in acoustic music, Yorkston's ruminations on love / lust / longing / liquor share a more eternal, resigned, Celtic feel with the battered reflections of Jacques Brel, Shane McGowan and Bert Jansch than any of his contemporaries.

A native of Fife, Yorkston was an integral early member of the Fence Collective whose reach across contemporary music continues to lengthen: King Creosote, The Aliens, KT Tunstall. All the above share Fence roots and a shackles - off mentality with Yorkston.

Over three albums of flinty beauty: Moving Up Country (2002) Just Beyond The River (2004) & The Year Of The Leopard (2006) and the wonderfully ramshackle rattle bag compilation Roaring The Gospel (2007) Yorkston has established a canon as singular and intimate as any current songwriter. Yorkston has the true stand off affability of a storyteller that allows him to happily sit in on a high-spirited ceilidh, or hoarsely join on the harmonies at one of the Fence Collective's legendary homegames.

Yorkston is very much at home on stage, his live shows evolving into celebratory, somewhat rambunctious affairs.

At Christmas he likes to play to a crowd in fancy dress, at the Green Man Festival he is joined on-stage each year by crowd member Jason for some backing vocalised percussion, which always makes a lot of sense at the time. Too modest a man to claim his inheritance, Yorkston has invited Martin Carthy to share a stage with him and paid tribute to Lal Watson in song, in both cases uncovering a shared sense of the history and the gruff reverence needed to do justice to traditional songs. A cursory listen to his songs demonstrates Yorkston's blood deep understanding of the dynamics of folk music, storytelling, and singing your life even as it unfurls around you. Immerse yourself in one of his albums in the right conditions: an open fire and an open bottle and you will wake up feeling you've made a friend for life.

James Yorkston returns with his 4th studio album When the Haar Rolls In. All the ambition, beauty and pathos of his previous albums is sweeping through – and he’s even bought back the full, lush arrangements that popularised his early work. Self produced; this album has the sound of a man let loose – un-restrained by the hand of an outside producer or the expectation of a major label’s desperation for a hit album.

Alongside King Creosote, The Aliens, Beta Band & Kate Tunstall, arriving here we have another slab of Fence Collective - East Neuk of Fife braw-ness. James is working once again with his trusty Athletes, along with some more unexpected names – Norma Waterson, Mike Waterson, Marry Gilhooly, Olly Knight. Not sure who they are? Have a wee look-up, filed under “legendary English folk family”.

There's more tales of waking up drunk in unfamiliar surroundings, throwing rocks at magpies, dogs chasing ghosts, stubborn sea winds, regrets and joys and smiles and peace and quiet and love and hate and more love. Better than that though, it’s a beautiful, honest album.

 

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FILES BY JAMES YORKSTON AND THE ATHLETES