Three years ago, the Scottish singer James Yorkston recorded the album Folk Songs, making use of decidedly untraditional settings provided by Sheffield-based experimental instrumentalists The Big Eyes Family Players and their leader James Green. Now the experiment is revisited, this time as a Big Eyes album, with even more adventurous, often sprawling arrangements, and now involving a series of other singers and collaborators. Green is a multi-instrumentalist, playing anything from guitars to keyboards, cello, harp, banjo, percussion and zither, while his colleagues add bass, synth or viola. This array of instruments is used to create often gently gloomy, edgy soundscapes, with the melancholia occasionally broken by passages of quiet grandeur. Along with Yorkston, the singers here include Alasdair Roberts, whose gently menacing Maureen from Gippursland is matched by swirling, ebbing backing; Elle Osborne, with an unworldly Thousands Or More; and Adrian Crowley with the slow, chilling and intimate Stretched On Your Grave. A strange, compelling set.
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