Records - Various - Ballads of the Book (4 stars)

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Ballads of the Book (Chemikal Underground)

POETRY POP

Of course, just because dozens of the county’s finest bands and authors have collaborated on this album, doesn’t guarantee it’s going to be any good. But thankfully it is, it’s really very good indeed. The end product is unsurprisingly eclectic in nature - meaning, naturally, that not everything will be to everyone’s taste - but the heart of this very Scottish record lies somewhere between folk and indie rock, with some truly remarkable examples at both ends of that spectrum. On the folkier side, ‘A Calvinist Narrowly Avoids Pleasure’ by James Yorkston and Bill Duncan is a rattlingly funny romp, while Karine Polwart’s interpretation of Edwin Morgan’s ‘The Good Years’ could make a horse cry with its simple, plaintive melody and sentiment. At the other end, De Rosa and Michel Faber turn in some fabulously offbeat wonk-rock in ‘Steam Comes Off Our House’, while the offerings from Aereogramme with Hal Duncan and Malcolm Middleton with Alan Bissett are utterly compelling in entirely different ways.

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