Donal Dineen’s Sunken Treasure - James Yorkston ‘When the Haar Rolls In’

Yorkston has always been a valiant explorer of the darker side of the human condition.

 

The Haar is a very fine mist which rolls off the North Sea and onto the coastline of the East Neuk of Fife in Scotland. The word is also used in the area as a euphemism for the blues.

James Yorkston knows all about the vagaries of the same fog. He hails from the village of Kingbarns which is often shrouded for days on end.

From the start of his solo career in 2002, Yorkston has always been a valiant explorer of the darker side of the human condition. He writes with considerable skill and unsparing honesty on themes of love, loss, fear and regret.

It’s common ground for singer-songwriters to mine yet Yorkston sounds like no one else but himself. He seems to work best in unfavourable weather conditions and this record sets a new high water mark for his songwriting prowess. It takes considerable skill and determination to consistently convey in the most intimate terms the complicated workings of the heart without resorting to cliche, but this he does with aplomb. There are many other strings to his bow. His way with melody and feel for arrangements is equally finely tuned.

Across his eight studio records, close attention has always been paid to sonic detail. He has worked with a different producer every time but this is the only record where he took complete control himself and the results are stunning. It’s blessed with the kind of warmth that can stave of a chill from the wettest sea fog any old day.

The title track off When the Haar Rolls In is an elegiac paean to the redemptive power of music. We can all count ourselves lucky that we’ve got recourse to it when the fog descends:

That’s when the music, I swear, gets me through, I close my eyes and everything is OK.

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