The new album from James Yorkston, The Route To The Harmonium, out tomorrow on Domino, is the sort of release that may be labelled neo-folk. And while Yorkston delves into that territory, I found his newest record closer in spirit to earlier offerings from Radiohead and David Sylvian. There's a real inventiveness here to the music which, when coupled with James' rich vocals, made me think of those acts, despite the instrumentation here which is more organic and less reliant on electronic textures than those other artists.
While "Your Beauty Could Not Save You" and "Like Bees To Foxglove" echo old compositions from artists as disparate as Bert Jansch and Syd Barrett, the elegantly-constructed "Shallow" made me think of Thom Yorke and his crew. James Yorkston has a unique skill at blending decidedly old styles with hints of the modern, such that a number like "Solitary Islands All" floats into a listener's consciousness through a few simple, concise folk hooks. Elsewhere, the elegiac "The Villages I Have Known My Entire Life" explores the sort of sonic expanses once mapped out by artists as disparate as Robert Wyatt and Ed Harcourt.
If lots of James Yorkston's newest album feels like a set of interpretations of prior forms, lots more here feels new. The Route To The Harmonium is, certainly, more complex and intricate than some earlier releases that I'd term folk-rock, and, similarly, Yorkston's downright warm vocals are mixed perfectly here, such that a listener feels like something is being shared in confidence. An intimate album, The Route To The Harmonium is also a visionary one, and the kind of album that winds its way into the soul with real ease.
The Route To The Harmonium is out tomorrow via Domino Records.
[Photo: Ren Rox]