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Year Of The Leopard
Year Of The Leopard – Yorkston’s third album – is an extremely downbeat collection, probably best suited to those in boozy broken-hearted 5am lamentation mode.
Craig Fitzsimons, 20 Sep 2006
A Scots folkie who cites influences as diverse as Can, Link Wray and Jacques Brel, James Yorkston crafts acoustic mood music driven by a sense of profound soul-searching and general melancholia. Slow-burning, sparse, delicate and occasionally very moving, Year Of The Leopard – Yorkston’s third album – is an extremely downbeat collection, probably best suited to those in boozy broken-hearted 5am lamentation mode.
Though his tools (acoustic guitar and a soft voice) couldn’t be simpler, Yorkston is capable of conveying deep emotion in a manner that, at its best, evokes memories of Leonard Cohen or the late Chris Whitley, garnering with the odd touch of violin, accordion and even banjo. His voice never rises above a fragile whisper, and the lyrics are introspection personified – “I wonder if you’ll be laying there ten, twenty, thirty years down the line/Will I still be staring out at the sea confused about love and life?”
The unadorned, somewhat bleak austerity of his soft-strum approach sometimes borders on the monotonous, and there’s no doubt that at least half the songs on Year Of The Leopard would have benefited hugely from an extra injection of sonic dynamics. Still, Yorkston’s in fine lyrical form, offering plenty of arresting, affecting ruminations on brutal love and alcoholic excess. Recommended, though no-one’s ever likely to confuse it with Ten Party Classics.