Alasdair Roberts

Spoils

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AllMusic Review by

Spoils is the work of an identifiably Scottish singer/songwriter. Indeed, his accent is strong enough that, perhaps unfortunately, North American listeners might easily mistake his enunciation of "eternally returning" (in the leadoff track, "The Flyting of Grief and Joy (Eternally Returning)") as "eternally retarded." There's a strain of traditional folk to be heard in his songwriting,, too, with that song and some others sounding a bit like narrative ballads. But Alasdair Roberts is also a man of the 21st century in how his arrangements and lyrics draw from contemporary folk-rock, though he's not obviously indebted to acid folk or its offshoots. In his pleasing, slightly tremulous lilt, he delivers attractive if not quite stunningly melodic tunes in light indie-folk-rock settings, the usual guitars sprinkled with unpredictable touches like slide guitar, glockenspiel, harmonium, and harpsichord. The songs are both stirring and subtly eccentric; not many songwriters (or traditional balladeers) would declare in the midst of a trad-sounding tale of walking among woods and tombs, "so bored was I, so bored was I." Overall, it's like following a wanderer on a vague and frustrated quest through a medieval-ish world, albeit one whose mystery he seems to be reveling in rather than upset by.

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