In his earlier days, Scottish native James Yorkston was fortunate enough to be plucked from obscurity for some valuable support slots by a couple of folk icons – the legendary Bert Jansch and the late, great John Martyn. In the ensuing years, he’s released an impressive 10 studio records and with his 11th, the curiously titled The Cellardyke Recording and Wassailing Society just around the corner, we get an idea of what’s to come with lead single Fellow Man.
Arrangement-wise, it’s pretty down-the-line folk with Yorkston’s gently plucked acoustic guitar providing an anchor point for sparse piano, Rhodes and some warped electric guitar reminiscent of his hero Martyn. Lyrically there’s some very strange stuff happening indeed with metaphors tumbling over memories and doubts somewhere on their way to a cohesive stories. Hopefully the rest of The Cellardyke Recording and Wassailing Society will contextualize this a little better since it’s a tad confusing for those who aren’t already fans.
With a number of guests including Producer Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip, regular collaborators Jon Thorne and Emma Smith and the famous KT Tunstall, there’s precious little information on the internet about who provides the gorgeously timid female vocals in the second verse of Fellow Man but they counterpoint Yorkston’s hushed monotony perfectly.
There’s a rich history of the “acoustic troubadour” in the UK and with an absolute wealth of music stemming from the folk movement, it’s often a little hard to discern the wheat from the chaff. Fellow Man isn’t the kind of song to grab you instantly but it’s a good indicator of what to expect from The Cellardyke Recording and Wassailing Society – earnest folk with supporting layers that are as delicate as they are intricate.