From the mid-'90s into the 2000s, the world of indie pop obsessed over the '60s pop production and arrangements pioneered by the Beach Boys and the Beatles, and for a decade it seemed that the culture at large was revisiting the '60s and '70s without much in the way of innovative updates. One can only assume that part of the reason for lack of noticeable advances is that 30 years isn't really enough time to have elapsed for these themes to be revisited from a truly different angle, which is what made Alasdair Roberts' take on indie pop so striking. Farewell Sorrow, Roberts' second solo departure from his band Appendix Out (which this album features members of), highlights his admiration of traditional Scottish folk music along with his involvement in the realm of indie pop, which served to transcend the '60s revival trend by pointing out the relevance and influence of traditional melodies within the annals of modern pop music. He's tracing the same steps that brought Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span into the history books as the innovators of the folk-rock movement of the late '60s, but instead Roberts is integrating those rich elements into the sparse world of indie pop subtly, instead of creating a wild juxtaposition of folk and rock in the way the aforementioned groups chose to do. Immediately, Farewell Sorrow shows its accessibility, its eccentricity, and its innovation with the title track, but it is on track two with Roberts' invitation to "Bring me the fine ale, the cider, and the wine/Link arms and join our lusty chorus!" that seals the necessity for undivided attention throughout the conclusion of the album. Farewell Sorrow is built on the art of restraint and elastic delicacy provided by Roberts' band to bring together the traditional institution of melody and the advance into unmarked territory, and they are wonderfully successful at transforming that steady artistic bridge into a refreshing package.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory McIntosh