James Yorkston is already somewhat of a critics' darling. As such this stop-gap album consisting of selection of traditionally arranged folk-songs, which sees Yorkston divorced of usual band The Athletes and is instead created in collaboration with The Big Eyes Family Players, probably inspired audible drooling from some guy with a beard that writes for Mojo.
Over at BlackPlastic we may be slightly more youthful and, dare we say it, suspicious of somebody doing something quite so honest and understated. But one thing is for sure: we still know a bloody good tune when we hear one.
And there are definitely some here. Folk Songs is a meandering, wistful body of work but it never feels anything less than heartfelt. Whilst an album full of traditional folk music undoubtedly risks feeling downtrodden and lacking in excitement Yorkston has seemingly pitched things just right here. On 'Martinmas Time', for example, a penny whistle is combined with a fiddle to create a piece of music that sounds so real and honest and it's this feeling that Yorkston has managed to nail several times throughout the record's length.
Listening to 'Thorneymoor Woods' you cannot help but rue the trappings of modern life as Yorkston describes the walking of dogs and other countryside pastimes. It's enough to make BlackPlastic want to pack up and head off home for a sit beside the fire with a mug of scotch. Probably best of all is 'I Went To Visit The Roses'. It's a warm, worldly wander of a song that smacks of charm and character like a well-loved rascal that troubles the regulars at the local pub.
Folk Songs is what it says then - folk songs about folk doing folky things. There is no real innovation here as such but it's an interesting and accessible entry-point both into James Yorkton's work and into folk music generally. Folk Songs just demonstrates how much love and joy there is down here in the dirt.