This month sees the release of a new album from Alasdair Roberts & Friends titled ‘A Wonder Working Stone‘ which will definitely rank amongst his most ambitious releases to date as he continues his interpretation of the tradtional music of Scotland and beyond with the help of some of finest musicians about. Included amongst his ‘friends’ are half of Scotland’s most interesting band Tatties Toes in the form of Welsh violinist extraordinaire Rafe Fitzpatrick and drummer Shane Connolly. Also joining them is the inventive guitarist Ben Reynolds as well as a number of other fine musicians. The talented Olivia Chaney also makes a special guest appearance.Robert’s finger style guitar and vocals are unmistakeable from the opening but what takes place around the steadfast helmsman exemplifies the radical nature of the man and his freespirited approach. The opening ‘The Merry Wake‘ strides out in confidence with guitar and fiddle, not untypical, but all is soon transformed as Ben Reynolds steps in with electric guitar announcing a metamorphosis into a jazz inflected chorus and then back with tasty rim tapping rythmns from Connolly…when you think it’s over a deft guitar solo announces a new phase and duet with Chaney. This is by no means a formulaic album there are unexpected twists and turns but Roberts manages to keep hold of that tradtional sound, how he does it god only knows but the word genius springs close to mind.