Sunday, September 15, 2019

Album Review: Alasdair Roberts- The Fiery Margin

As a white Midwestern male of humble stock, I’ve had the luxury of never needing to give much thought to my identity.  My American ancestors- a long lineage of obscure farmers, teachers and preachers- allow me to follow a path that’s largely free of expectations, obligations and encumbrances.

The results of the genetic test I recently took weren’t particularly surprising.  While it’s amusing to confirm my hunch that I’m a modern-day Neanderthal, I learned that a substantial chunk of my nuts-and-bolts are directly traceable to Glasgow.

Do my roots explain my dark disposition?  I account for ten of the 200 views of the stark solo performance of "A Keen" filmed in the home of Alasdair Roberts.  The bleak song about “the grief of a parent upon the early death of a child” is agonizing.  It could be the Scot in me that’s compelled to relish the misery.

The expanded instrumentation of the reading of “A Keen” on the Scotsman’s new album The Fiery Margin is reminiscent of Joe Boyd’s brilliant production for the likes of Nick Drake and Richard Thompson.  While based in tradition, Roberts has more in common with his Drag City labelmate Bonnie “Prince” Billy than with a typical folk purist.

My adamant rejection of the concept of historical trauma led to a heated argument with one of my children last year.  Yet Roberts’ brooding songs about uniquely Scottish forms of torment seem to stir dormant memories in my soul.  The Fiery Margin sounds so much like a home I’ve never known that I may owe my kid an apology.

My audio feature about Robert Castillo and his Kansas City groove-jazz band The Sextet aired on KCUR yesterday.  The sound will eventually be added to my text.

“Look at all the murderers and rapists here!” Joe Hernandez exclaimed as he surveyed the harmonious crowd of more than 3,000 at Fiesta Hispana last night.  The Tex-Mex legend who rose to fame as the leader of Little Joe y La Familia pilloried the President’s attacks on the Latin American community.  He asked for a moment of silence to acknowledge victims of gun violence and for “children in cages” before leading his band in a heartbreaking reading of “America the Beautiful.”  Hernandez insisted that “I know who I am and what we are- we don’t need a target on our backs.”  I captured a bit of Hernandez’s defiant “Redneck Meskin Boy”.

The discounted five-dollar tickets I bought for yesterday’s matinee concert by The Four Italian Tenors at the Folly Theater paid off in the form of complimentary champagne and chocolate.  The ensemble’s hammy popera was just a bonus.

“I run the town daily like Super Jesus.”  Here’s the music video for “Super Jesus”, the Popper’s new song about the Kansas City cult figure Mike Wheeler.

I first saw Eddie Money at Royals Stadium in 1978.  Kansas, the Steve Miller Band and Van Halen were also on the bill of Summer Jam.  I last saw Money at the suburban festival Old Shawnee Days in 2012.  Here’s my review..  The bookends are a perfect encapsulation of the career arc of a typical pop star.  Money died on Friday.

The familiar sample of the Sylvers’ “Stay Away from Me” on Sampa the Great’s “Final Form” sent me down a dusty R&B rabbithole yesterday.  I discovered the bonkers “I’ll Never Let You Go”.  I’d like someone to explain the lyrics on to me.  It’s a metaphor, right?

Three good songs- “Old Soul”, “Loose Change” and “Cocktail and a Song”- salvage the otherwise drearily mundane self-titled album by The Highwomen.

You’d be correct if you suspect that I’m over the moon about (almost) everything related to this.

(Screenshot of my 23andMe’s site by There Stands the Glass.)

1 comment:

Aaron Rhodes said...

:) thank u for writing this post