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JAMES YORKSTON

James Yorkston And The Second Hand Orchestra

The Wide, Wide River

    The album came to be after the blossoming of a long-term friendship between James Yorkston and Karl-Jonas Winqvist, the Swedish music producer, leader and conductor of The Second Hand Orchestra.

    Yorkston says of recording “Struggle” with TSHO: “The band were sat by in the studio by themselves, looping the verses over and over. I was in the control room, drinking sweet tea. I just had to wait for the right moment and jump on board, like when I’m pushing my kids round on a roundabout in the local park. I love that everyone was singing along so freely when we recorded this. There were vocal mics for everyone, and people would just lean in with a harmony, every now and then. It gives it a very communal feeling.”

    That communal feeling is apparent across the entire album. Recorded and mixed in Sweden over the course of three days with a selection of musicians Winqvist had brought together, including Peter Morén (Peter, Bjorn & John), Cecilia Österholm (one of Sweden’s best-known nyckelharpa players), Emma Nordenstam (piano & cello) and Ulrika Gyllenberg (violin). The studio approach with The Second Hand Orchestra was entirely improvised around Yorkston’s songs, and the only song they heard in advance was “Ella Mary Leather”; Yorkston didn’t want to direct anyone too much but instead, allowed for a welcoming, instinctive, free-spirited and joyful atmosphere. The Wide, Wide River is a soothing, warm and sublime listen, whilst also highlighting Yorkston’s skills for songwriting, collaboration and as a musical conductor. The record takes in past loves, advancing age and friends, now gone, whilst also containing some of the most sanguine songs Yorkston has ever made.

    The Wide, Wide River is James’ tenth album for Domino, not to mention his three albums as part of Yorkston/Thorne/Khan and his two books. A prolific writer, Yorkston has worked with a wealth of talent over his two-decade career including Four Tet, Alexis Taylor, KT Tunstall, Rustin Man, Simon Raymonde, Norma and Mike Waterson, Martin Carthy, Max Cooper, David Wrench and many others.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: James Yorkston makes some of the most endearing melodic indie-folk you're likely to hear and teaming up hear with the Second Hand Orchestra ends up sounding like a joyful, clattering distillation of trad folk and wild exhuberant art-rock. Exactly what we need right now.

    TRACK LISTING

    Ella Mary Leather
    To Soothe Her Wee Bit Sorrows
    Choices, Like Wild Rivers
    Struggle
    There Is No Upside
    A Droplet Forms
    A Very Old-Fashioned Blues
    We Test The Beams

    Produced by Yorkston and David Wrench, The Route to the Harmonium is James’ first solo record since 2014’s Cellardyke Recording and Wassailing Society (CRAWS) and follows the two collaborative albums he made as one third of Yorkston/Thorne/Khan as well as the release of his debut novel Three Craws in 2016.

    The album was almost entirely recorded by James himself, in the small Scottish fishing village of Cellardyke, where he lives. Yorkston’s studio is a ramshackle old loft space, originally used to repair fisherman’s nets, and now stuffed full the antique instruments James has collected throughout his life as a musician. Having created hours of recordings, James called up his old collaborator David Wrench - the mixer and producer who has worked with the likes of Caribou, Four Tet, Frank Ocean, FKA Twigs and David Byrne - and someone who has worked on James’ albums since 2003 – to help make sense of the sessions.

    The Route to the Harmonium (or, ‘the search for peace’) is intensely personal; it’s the sound of home, of undisturbed craftmanship. Listen closely and you can imagine him putting it together. Overlaying vocal and guitar tracks, adding further with Dulcitones, harmoniums and autoharps, with nyckelharpa, the distinctive Swedish stringed instrument given to him by a friend. And friends and family, past and present swim all over his songs. Remembering them, and those you’ve shared life with, those who leave and those who remain, is the strongest thread running through these affecting, extraordinary songs. This is Yorkston’s world and could be nowhere else in music.

    James adds: “I guess, as a musician and writer, I find myself reacting to what goes on around. So, this album is about life, the life that carries on around me. There’s family, place, and the being away from family that the life of a touring musician brings… But there’s also reference to friends departed – the hows, the whys – When a friend jumps ship it’s always a haymaker to the gut, you know? And this album is about them, but it’s more about us, us who are left behind...”

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Tender ballads and brittle songmaship on this stunning outing from the great James Yorkston. Reminiscent of some of the country-folk offerings from Constellation / Alien8 recordings in the early 90's, Yorkston manages to convey a heartbreaking morose air whilst keeping the melodicism intact. A beautifully written collection, as expected.

    TRACK LISTING

    01 Your Beauty Could Not Save You
    02 The Irish Wars Of Independence 
    03 Like Bees To Foxglove
    04 Shallow
    05 The Blue Of The Thistle
    06 Brittle
    07 My Mouth Ain't No Bible
    08 Solitary Islands All
    09 The Villages I Have Known My Entire Life
    10 Oh Me, Oh My
    11 Yorkston Athletic
    12 A Footnote To An Epitaph 

    James Yorkston

    The Cellardyke Recording And Wassailing Society

    James Yorkston, an artist not unfamiliar with the notion of collaboration, has opened the studio doors to a broad and brilliant selection of players on this his eighth studio album.

    Produced by Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor in London’s Livingston studio, it features KT Tunstall, The Pictish Trail, Rob Smoughton, Fimber Bravo and his long term collaborators Jon Thorne and Emma Smith.

    ‘The Cellardyke Recording And Wassailing Society’ finds James at his most personal and reflective, following 2012’s ‘I Was A Cat From A Book’.

    What James and his collection of fine musicians have created is an album that connects the intimacy of his hometown life with the camaraderie of good friends. ‘The Cellardyke Recording And Wassailing Society’ flows with acceptance and relief and is James’ fullest body of work.

    The album artwork was created by celebrated children’s author and illustrator Clare Beaton.

    TRACK LISTING

    Fellow Man
    The Blues You Sang
    Sweet Sweet
    Guy Fawkes’ Signature
    Thinking About Kat
    Feathers Are Falling
    Broken Wave (A Blues For Doogie)
    Red Fox
    King Of The Moles
    Great Ghosts
    Sleep On
    Embers
    Honey On Thigh
    As Grey And As White
    The Very Very Best
    You & Your Sister

    James Yorkston

    I Was A Cat From A Book

      His first album since 2008’s ‘When The Haar Rolls In’, ‘I Was A Cat From A Book’ finds James Yorkston playing with a new band comprised of members of Lamb and The Cinematic Orchestra, alongside old friends.

      The album was produced by James Yorkston and Dave Wrench and mostly recorded live during five wintery days in Bryn Derwen Studios, North Wales.

      It’s an album full of energy and great musicianship, and contains James’ strongest and most bewildering set of songs yet.

      Since the release of ‘When The Haar Rolls In’, James has published a book (‘It’s Lovely To Be Here’), collaborated with The Big Eyes Family Players on Folk Songs, and seen the ten year anniversary release of ‘Moving Up Country’, his landmark debut album.

      TRACK LISTING

      Catch
      Kath With Rhodes
      Border Song
      This Line Says
      Just As Scared
      Sometimes The Act Of Giving Love
      The Fire & The Flames
      A Short Blues
      Spanish Ants
      Two
      I Can Take All This
      Thar She Blows *
      Black Horse White *
      (* = Vinyl Only Track)

      James Yorkston And The Athletes

      Moving Up Country: 10th Anniversary Edition

        Landmark recordings of the 21st century British folk renaissance reissued.

        This 10th Anniversary Edition of ‘Moving Up Country’ consists of two discs.

        CD1 features the original album, now with the legendary hard to find stand alone debut Domino single ‘The Lang Toun’.

        CD2 is a collection of ‘Moving Up Country’ demos, including never heard before demos and a Peel Session originally broadcast on January 2003.


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