Monday, January 25, 2016

James Yorkston and the Athletes - Moving Up Country

James Yorkston and the Athletes released their debut album in 2002.  What set Yorkston and co apart from their fellow Scottish sad b**t**ds at the time was the fact that the music is very much folk-inflected.  Opener In Your Hands is a prime example, relaxed rolling guitars, gentle percussion and Yorkston's gentle, soothing voice, joined by accordion and harmonica.  The violin on St Patrick and accordion on Sweet Jesus gives these songs a sort of "trad" feel.  But just when the album might start to seem a bit samey, one of the standouts, torch song Tender to the Blues arrives.  A rather doleful lament, the accordion featuring here feels a little more... continental, but the centrepiece is a fine vocal by Yorkston, singing "I'm no fool, my heart's just exposed".

The mood shifts again with the lazy, carefree Moving Up Country, Roaring The Gospel.  One of the really chilled out moments here, the guitar, piano, concertina and clarinet combine to great effect.  Cheating the Game features banjo, brushes and concertina, while pacy strum I Spy Dogs is the fastest thing here.  Later, 6:30 Is Just Way Too Early has a fine, languid guitar and organ before the album finishes with a decent version of the traditional I Know My Love.  So a fine, relaxed album for lazy days.