James Yorkston And The Second Hand Orchestra – The Wide, Wide River

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Fife-based genius James Yorkston pairs with old friend Karl-Jonas Winqvist’s Second Hand Orchestra for a vodka-splashed voyage down life’s wild, wide river. From Ella Mary Leather (regretted only on ‘certain days of the year’) and To Soothe Her Wee Bit Sorrows’ study of pacification – he has flair for characterisation, painting a world within the skeleton of a song.

But the music! It’s contagious joy to hear players with such abandon and intuition, braiding their lines together: brass, brushed drums, the lyric of a singing fiddle. ‘Choices Like Wide Rivers’ flows gentle to its destination (‘Semaphore Your Love’); Struggle’s optimistic look to life’s choppy bits weighs up what’s worth it and isn’t.

‘There Is No Upside’ could be the best song he’s ever written: no bad and no good, life’s only what unfolds in front of us. It’s faultless in its execution, and brought me to tears the first time I heard it.


Words: Marianne Gallagher

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