This is a remarkable record. It's not, perhaps, a great one, and certainly not a dynamic one, but it runs so strongly counter to the grain of popular music this side of the Atlantic and does it so confidently and skilfully that it makes you shake your head in wonder when you first hear it.
To a wheezy, burbling backing (The Athletes? Someone's having a laugh, then.), Yorkston half-sings, half-murmurs a collection of lost-love and fading-memory stories, sounding like a companionable stranger in a dark, warm bar in Winter. The songs are playful but melancholy, and Yorkston's golden ear for a melody makes them instantly sound like you've heard them played in the background all your life. If that makes this CD sound like comfort food, then that's just perfect - the whole thing is full of whispery low-key charm and likeability, and there cannot be anyone on earth it would offend.
It sounds a bit like Will Oldham, as almost every review says it does, but it sound much more like the quiet parts of a Sparklehorse album - Good Morning Spider especially. Moving Up Country doesn't have the musical and emotional range of Mark Linkus' record, but almost nothing does, and Yorkston's album at least has absolutely no low spots: the first track is lovely, the last track is beautiful, and all the others fall somewhere in between.
How can that be a bad thing?