Alasdair Roberts is a Scottish singer/songwriter with a quite impressive discography, and thankfully is still releasing music. His new album released just this year titled Pangs, and I might just review that one as well. Roberts’ voice is the immediate draw to his sound, it’s enchanting and commanding, but also very tender. You might expect his accent to be paired with more traditional sounding music, but the instrumentation on Spoils is very varied. It’s reminds me a little of what Sufjan Stevens might use, a diverse selection of musical instruments and inspiration. The theme of this album is travel and self discovery.
The opener The Flyting of Grief & Joy (Eternal Return) is a lonely song and is one of the longer songs on the album, interesting that he led with that. The mood is lifted with the eager guitars on You Muses Assist. Ned Ludd’s Rant (For a World Rebarbarised) is a song about a dream of a luddite, a decrying of modern society and nostalgia for the barbarism of humans. I like how quite and solemn he is before he starts describing the details of the bizarre rant. The closer Under No Enchantment (But My Own) is just beautiful, a song of miss-matched, fear of commitment, and relationships in general. One verse that caught my ear was:
“So we’ll patch together, but we’ll never blend
Although as we’ve seen that’s the general trend”
If you like the poetry of lyrics in your music, then you will have a lot to chew on when you listen to Spoils. The lyrics are thick with metaphor and sometimes too obtuse for me. There are a few times he get personal, and those are my favorite moments on the album. If you’re looking for something more like traditional Scottish Folk music, then I would look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a tender and poetic album, then you’ve found one.