Alasdair Roberts, Amble Skuse and David McGuinness

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We’re thrilled to welcome Drag City signed artist Alasdair Roberts with his new collaborative project What News. Alasdair has worked with Will Oldham, Jason Molina, Josephine Foster, Mairi Morrison and Karine Polwart as well as members of Arab Strap and Trembling Bells.

This may be his finest work to date, and as Songlines put it “Roberts is in excellent voice… Skuse’s fascinating use of electronics marks her out as a unique composer-musician, and the keyboard work is minimal and perfectly weighted against Roberts’ vocals. What News just might be the best of Roberts’ trad albums – and that makes it essential listening”.

This show is part of our Central Belters season of shows supported by PRS Foundation.

Featuring eight interpretations of old Scots ballads – muckle sangs – arranged for voice, piano and electronics, the critically lauded new record What News is Roberts’ fourth such album-length foray into traditional song, informed by archival researches and steeped in a deep respect for the singers of Scotland’s past. However, the idiosyncratic, forward-thinking arrangements wrought by his collaborators – pianist David McGuinness (on a selection of rare keyboard instruments) and electronic musician Amble Skuse (on processing and sonics) – make this album genuinely pioneering and thoroughly unique.

For their autumn 2018 tour dates, Alasdair, Amble and David will be presenting What News in its entirety – and in all its variety, from the stirring opener ‘The Dun Broon Bride‘ through the rollicking ‘Johnny o’ the Brine‘, the macabre and eerie ‘Young Johnstone‘, the spare and tender ‘Rosie Anderson‘ and ‘Long A-Growing‘ to the near-overwhelming sonic maelstrom of ‘Clerk Colven‘. This will be a rare chance to experience an extraordinary collaboration, sure to appeal to aficionados of traditional song and experimental music alike.

“It’s been quite a while since I’ve been so excited and enthralled by an album. There is an urgency to Alasdair’s commanding performances – he has never sung better nor more fearlessly, yet with such subtlety, gravity and beauty. The arrangements by David and Amble work perfectly – uncompromising, spirited, thrilling, tender and heart-breaking. Audacious too. What News is a triumph – a masterpiece. Album of the Year? Album of the Decade, I’d say.”– Shirley Collins

“Equal parts heartfelt to experimental with Roberts’ always-beautiful vocals to bind these elements together, What News is genuinely revelatory work from an artist no stranger to pushing his limits – and now ours” – Record Collector ****

“A beautiful delve into archival songs… a perfect album for the ingle at gloaming, shot through with scattered soundscapes” – Rock’n’Reel *****

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