Alasdair Roberts, 'Spoils' (Drag City)

Critical Mass
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by Erik Davis

A Scottish singer-songwriter with a number of spare and lovely folk albums, Alasdair Roberts goes for the mad prophetic gusto on the strange and visionary Spoils. Backed by a loose combo, Roberts sweeps away the dust of neo-trad nostalgia with a dynamic but intimate rock vibe that's ragged in all the right ways. Yes, there are hurdy gurdies, acoustic guitars, and songs about medieval books and divining rods. But with his scurvy dreams, apocalyptic premonitions, and Luddite rants ("We've seen the death of wonder"), Roberts draws remarkable fire from our present "makeshift age."

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