James Yorkston – When the Haar Rolls In
A fabulous LP, possibly his best, certainly Incendiary’s favourite. And one people should listen to rather than pay lip service to. I get the feeling that a lot of people drop James Yorkston’s name but don’t play his LPs, it’s as if he’s become an institution through other people’s lethargy. Weird.
Onto the music. There’s an added richness and canniness to this LP that was only hinted at in previous releases; and a relaxed pace that suits his muse very well. The title track (for instance) is big enough in stature to encompass changes between quiet acoustic apologies to swirling instrumental breaks; and does so with a sleek ease. And of course, the lyrics are fabulous. Anyone who writes a line “And I busied myself with the flippancy of art” is bloody sharp.
It’s also his most overtly romantic LP; opener B’s Jig is a magnificently dreamy love song. Following that come the two tales of frustration, Tortoise Regrets Hare and Temptation, giving brilliant vent to Yorkston’s inner feelings, (I’ve always felt that behind the laid back exterior there was a passionate man).
I don’t know why but there’s a definite feel of the late 60s about When the Haar Rolls In, very Bert Jansch, very Bryter Later style Nick Drake; it’s music that is slightly fuzzy round the edges, romantic and pastoral (A Midnight Feast). Or maybe it’s the song lengths; a couple clock in at over 6 minutes, and the brilliant The Capture of the Horse takes a good 8 minutes of your time. Maybe it’s the cover. No matter, it suits him very well.
Bucolic melancholy is, of course, never far away (Queen of Spain); you couldn’t imagine Yorkston writing outside of a taproom, but he never over eggs this aspect of his music. Rather it’s a constant, silent companion.
A brilliant LP, ‘nuff said.
Words: Richard Foster