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Archive - Friday, 8 April 2005
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Alasdair Roberts, Komedia, Brighton, Thursday April 14
For a long time many thought that Scottish-born Alasdair Roberts was descended from a line of royal gamekeepers.
This might have been due to a press release for his second solo album, Farewell Sorrow, which said exactly that.
"I thought it was framed in such a way that it was obviously an untruth, but a lot of people seem to have been taken in by it," says the singer/songwriter. "I suppose I was interested in the idea of making a myth up about my origins. It's the entertainment business. You don't have to be totally honest."
What is true is that Roberts has been championed by folk miserabilist Will Oldham, AKA Bonnie Prince Billy, for a good while. His latest album , No Earthly Man is produced by Oldham and the two have been compared both in their concerns for traditional folk music and their awkward, distinctive singing styles.
Another myth is that Roberts was discovered by Oldham whilst performing at a ceilidh. In fact he gave the American singer a demo tape at a Glasgow gig.
His love of mythologising extends beyond his biography. He does not like to be called a folk singer but he admires the story-telling qualities of the traditional folk song.
"It's quite a modern approach to think that everything someone sings about is true," he says. "It sort of bores me to hear songs that are straightforwardly autobiographical. You may as well confine them to a diary. That's why I like traditional ballads, they're so nonautobiographical.
They're totally outward-looking."
The songs from Farewell Sorrow and No Earthly Man combine evocative stories of love and death with intense guitar playing and the occasional sounds of cello and percussion. His music draws on the bleak folk ballads of England and Scotland but adds occasional grinding synthesized noise.
"Folk music is not supposed to be polite," he says. "I don't think what I do is particularly radical."
Cabaret bar downstairs open 8.30pm. Tickets cost £8.50/£9.50 limited seating. Call 01273 647100.