Norwegian folk collective Völvur team up with Scotland's very own Alasdair Roberts for an album combining traditional and modern songs in both groups' native languages – to powerful effect, finds Tom Bolton
The Old Fabled River opens with a cinematic swell of fiddle and percussion, a calling card for its collaborators: modern Scottish bard, Alasdair Roberts and Scandanavian folk collective, Völvur ('The Seeresses', in English). Recorded in London in January 2020, an impossibly long time ago, the album is the latest in a growing set of recordings Roberts has shared with musicians singing in languages other than English. Urstan (2012) was recorded with Gaelic singer Mairi Morrison, and Au Cube (2018) with French band Tartine de Clous. All three records split their tracks between languages, but on each the sensibilities of musicians from different nations cohere beautifully. On The Old Fabled River, Roberts sings a combination of traditional songs and newly written tracks, while Völvur contribute traditional Norwegian tracks sung by Marthe Lea.