Ballads Of The Book

Ballads Of The Book

Aidan Moffat




If songs are in theory nothing more than poetry set to music, then it seems like most poets should take to songwriting like Dylan Thomas to a bottle of brandy. Right? This is the big idea behind Ballads of the Book, a collection of 18 song collaborations between Scottish musicians and writers. And for the most part, the premise seems to work, if only because there are some great artists involved. The brainchild of a chance meeting between Idlewild's Roddy Woomble and poet Edwin Morgan, this disc features writers like John Burnside, A.L. Kennedy, and Ian Rankin -- in other words, some of the biggest names in contemporary Scottish literature -- teaming up with folk and indie rock regulars like Mike Heron, Vashti Bunyan, King Creosote, and De Rosa. There are at least two reasons to give this collection a chance. One is the stunning collaboration between Mike Heron and John Burnside, in which Heron's bleak, hoarse vocals offer a wonderful match for Burnside's exacting lyrics. The other is "The Weight of Years," Idlewild and Morgan's joint effort, in which Morgan's translation of a fragment from Sappho is nudged into a memorable, song-shaped tribute. This disc is a mixed bag, stylistically speaking, ranging from sparse, straight-backed piano arrangements to lush, Sufjan Stevens-like chamber pop flourishes. But it manages to remain cohesive, if only because everyone here sounds incredibly Scottish: it's stark and bloody (see "The War on Love Song"), and full of heart-worn angles and hard muscle ("A Sentimental Song"). This is an ambitious, rewarding collection, and it's a real treat for those who know a little about the writers involved.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/03/2007
Label: Chemikal Underground
UPC: 0020286101222
catalogNumber: 13

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Andy Cutting   Accordion
John McCusker   Violin,Human Whistle
Kate Rusby   Vocals
Rod Jones   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Andy Seward   Bass
Kevin McGuire   Vocals
Inge Thomson   Vocals
Karine Polwart   Guitar,Vocals,Kalimba
Roddy Woomble   Vocals
Kris Drever   Vocals
Rodge Glass   Vocals
Steve Polwart   Guitar,Vocals

Technical Credits

Richard Todd   Paintings
John McCusker   Producer
Paul Savage   Engineer
Andy Seward   Engineer
Andy "Maddog" Miller   Engineer
Joe Rusby   Engineer
Rodge Glass   Instrumentation
Alasdair Gray   Cover Image

Customer Reviews