James Yorkston - Roaring the Gospel
Album Review

James Yorkston – Roaring the Gospel

Kicking in with a subtle nod toward ‘Badly Drawn Boy’s superb ‘Silent Sigh’, we bear witness to ‘A Man with my Skills’, an LP opener brimming with suppressed energy. It’s subdued by James Yorkstons (JY) vocal which feels dispassionate and lacking in fervour. Instead, JY predictably settles for a half assed delivery of his noble lyrics. The signs are good. It’s your usual, good grade JY fodder. Before stumbling upon a cover of ‘Tim Buckley’s (TB), ‘Song to the Siren’ at the halfway mark, we find a highlight in ‘The Hills and the Heath’, an upbeat ditty with singing replacing speaking, there to hold its tuneful hand all the way home. The enjoyment of the first six songs lingers and remains, whilst any desire for an imprint or impression to be left upon our soul is left unfulfilled. It reminds me of waiting for ‘Spiritualized’ to release their ‘Let it Come Down’ LP and loving every moment when they did, despite the vocals being barely uttered by a sleepy sounding Jason Pierce. Its quality stuff, but it’s not awesome. It’s spiritual stuff, but it’s not inspiring. Awe inspiring stuff this aint. And no, I didn’t come here to discover awe inspiring, but I did come here to discover. Shall we continue?

As for the TB cover, well he and a certain Ivor Cutler must be giggling in their graves, for this, surely, can be classified as a respectful tribute to them both, with homage not insult at the heart of the dirge. JY, what are we gonna do with your cheeky self, hey?! Followed by the LPs title source, ‘Moving up Country, Roaring the Gospel’ we’re carried upward into serenity filled skies, with some subtly dispelled gasps of harmony and emotion. Sweet! Up is the new down on this, the second and stronger half of a good LP. But don’t hold your breath, for ‘Blue Breezin’, Blind Drunk’ brings us a sentiment soaked version of ‘Fairytale of New York’ (ston) being played at the 33rpm, not 45. It does work well it has to be said, but alas, we must wave goodbye to our previously touched upon tranquillity. Whoever arranged the tracklisting in this order will never go to sleep with this as their medley of lullabies. This will haunt them for a while. It seems that there’s a fresh, spring in your step kind of optimism being intermittently injected into this project. A project ever hampered but ever ambling along for the better. Now onward into the sunset and not into a dishevelled shanty of sorrow, we strive happily forward to the uniformed sounds of banjos, oboes and other instruments that don’t always end with an ‘o’ sound! The LP closes anti climatically, leaving us, well, somewhat disaffected. And I can’t help but feel that it might be for the best. On the whole, I take my hat off to JY, but only for me to sit on it after a few pints.

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