Quiet as a mouse folkie James Yorkston has collaborated with KT Tunstall and Rob Smoughton on 'The Cellardyke Recording and Wassailing Society', his eighth record to date and the follow-up to 2012's 'I Was A Cat From A Book'. It's arranged with piano, guitars and vocal duets that make it feel full in spite of its deceptive sparseness. Produced by Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor, who resisted the urge to dance.
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- The Cellardyke Recording and Wassailing Society by James Yorkston
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For a man rooted in the folk tradition, James Yorkston doesn’t half work with some trendy types. Keiran ‘Fourtet’ Hebden produced his earlier ‘Just Beyond the River‘ album and this time Hot Chip hot shot and general geek about town Alexis Taylor is drafted in to produce this, his 8th album.
Except it's not producing as such, its simply recording as there’s no real production on these songs. They are simple, unaffected by modern day recording techniques and based around simple acoustic guitar and Yorkston’s storytelling delivery. Its all very nice and creates a mood of benign indifference if you're not in the right frame of mind. Yorkston does a lot of duetting with KT Tunstall on this album who likewise started her career with Fence Records and here returns towards her roots. But is it all a bit dull? Well yes it is. I’d like to see Yorkston spread his wings a bit, I find his records very dry and in a way I’d prefer a producer to come in and give him a kick up the arse to try to get him to come up with songs to match the quality of those on his debut (which to my ears, which are admittedly intermittent in their knowledge of his catalogue, he has never bettered).
There’s nothing wrong with the record as such, like King Creosote Yorkston does his thing and he does it pretty well. But give or take a few subtle stylistic changes its much the same every time. I skipped to the end to see what he does to Chris Bell's ‘You and Your Sister’ which he croons over some lo-fi piano. Its a great song, much covered already and it does exemplify my impression of Yorkston as a reasonably talented man, kinda phoning it in at times. Still there’s an almost unprecedented 16 songs on here so converts will find a lot to enjoy. The artwork too, particularly on the LP version is quite breathtakingly gorgeous.
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