Saturday, 2 August 2008

James Yorkston, Roaring The Gospel

James Yorkston, Roaring The Gospel

On a snoozy Sunday afternoon in the Greenfields at Glastonbury, you might come across a tent where people are lazing on tatty bits of carpet and sipping tea the colour of nicotine. There will be music that seems so warm and cuddly compared to those shouty snotbags on the ‘important’ stages that you feel compelled to sit down yourself and let the sonic sunshine wash over you. A couple of hours later you’ll wake up with a crick in your neck to find that you’re alone, cold and damp and needing more than an alfalfa smoothie to cheer you up. Veganism is hopeless in these moments.

James Yorkston is a vegan and once turned down £10,000 for his music to be used on an advert for butter. His is the music that you would find in the sleepy little backwater stages of Glastonbury, or any festival where milk and two sugars is not an option. Yorkston’s mumbly, cosy voice and equally mumbly, cosy backing band, The Athletes, are like a hot toddy – soothing, Scottish and saccharine. The sweetness isn’t quite intentional, but every track on Roaring The Gospel shuffles past so politely that it takes minutes to even register that the album has ended.

The fact is, there’s plenty of decent folk about. Whether you like the hip, quirky folk that The Sunday Times bangs on about, or highbrow, virtuosic folk like Bert Jansch or Seth Lakeman, or even a stomping ceilidh at a pub, you’re never far from a good bit of folk. So where, really, is the demand for a collection of rarities and covers from a worthy but nonetheless dull artist like Yorkston? It’s all quite good, it’s all perfectly listenable, but you’ll wake up at the end wondering where the hour’s gone and why you can’t get a decent burger.


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