James Yorkston - I Was A Cat From A Book

A continuation of Yorkston’s consistently lovely sounding chamber folk-styled work.

Label: Domino Records

Rating: 7

‘I Was A Cat From A Book’ is Yorkston’s sixth release for Domino Records. Not only is it a continuation of his consistently lovely sounding chamber folk-styled work, it also sees the Fence collective member modernize his sound. It’s in these moments that the album is at its musical peak. At times it is with some subtle and carefully placed electronica, as seen on the delicate lullaby, ‘Kath With Rhodes’. At other times, Yorkston explores a darker, almost freak-folk territory, like on the absolutely sublime ‘This Line Says’. Sounding similar to Devendra Banhart on this track, his mournful croak is accompanied only by a solemn guitar line (which sounds like it could have come out of Chilean nuevo cancion movement of the 60s) and crying violins, which gradually pull themselves into the forefront, before evaporating into a sea of minor-key soaked baroque ether. It really is stunning.

Outside of the aforementioned tracks and those like them (‘The Fire And The Flame’ is another beautiful song with gypsy-folk leanings), the rest of the album is comprised of the type of tracks Yorkston is well known for; whimsical, and at times, jaunty Celtic-styled chamber folk. And though none of these tracks are not at all terrible by any means, they seem far more routed in folk-pop conventions we see present today than the standout tracks do. The standout tracks are standouts because they have an appeal beyond those belonging to a particular genre. The language they speak feels more international than the more conventional songs, which are moreso the domain of fans of the genre.

But all in all, ‘I Was A Cat From A Book’ is a good album with top-class musicianship and production, that deserves your ear at least once even if folk is not your thing.