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Boomkat Product Review:
In an age when anything involving an acoustic guitar gets branded as folk music, it's actually pretty refreshing to find a record that unequivocally IS a folk record. James Yorkston trawls the expanse of Great Britain and Ireland (briefly stopping by Galicia, Spain) in search of traditional songs. As the accompanying press release is keen to observe, over the past few years the folk scene has branched out into all kind of guises that bear little resemblance to the music's genuine heritage, soundtracking everything from cheese commercials (I'm looking at you, Mr. Banhart) to mobile phone adverts. Folk has been hijacked by marketing teams in an attempt to make large corporations a bit more cuddly and digestibly lo-fi - though of course they are neither. Thankfully, Yorkston and his extended troupe of musicians is on hand to get us back in touch with our folk history, presenting songs like 'Hills Of Greenmoor', 'Martinmas Time', and 'Thorneymoor Woods' with orchestral embellishment that's simultaneously incredibly lovely and respectfully underplayed. One of the standouts here is a quite wonderful arrangement of 'Rufford Park Poachers', a ballad describing an 1851 incident in Sherwood Forest where forty poachers assembled as a protest against the distribution of game-hunting rights. The ensuing skirmish between gamekeepers and the protesters resulted in a death and several of the poachers subsequently being deported and facing lengthy jail sentences. This is all detailed in the song, which celebrates the poachers as heroes, commemorating an event (albeit subjectively) that might otherwise be lost to history, and left languishing in dusty parish records somewhere. It's admirable, therefore, that an artist on a label as high profile as Domino should aim to breathe new life into this catalogue of songs, particularly given the lavish arrangements and venerating treatments they've been given by Yorkston.