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Scotland is a small country—smaller even than Portugal. But Kenny Anderson, the Fife resident who records as King Creosote, has wide-open spaces in his heart. Kenny and Beth’s Musakal Boat Rides is Anderson’s first U.S. album after—let’s see—18 CD-R releases on his own Fence label. It collects songs from most of these, creating an armchair travelogue on which Anderson imagines rivers in Boulder, Colo., and wonders how you’re getting on in New York City without him. You can’t blame the guy for staying home—gasoline costs $8 bazillion a gallon in the land of the Picts; plus, the lad’s got a family. “Homeboy,” the album’s first real song (following a pump-organ intro whose title name-checks Anderson’s brother Gordon, aka the Lone Pigeon), is a breezy anthem in search of a road trip, a strummy guitar number with martial snares and lyrics about disappearing at social events. “So Forlorn,” which plays on the words “so far along,” builds a groove from a migraine-inducing guitar part, an ambling drum sample, and what sounds like monkey noises. And “Turps,” the one about Boulder, unfurls couplets about “desert shoes” and “gin concoctions,” as well as yet more strummy guitars and some unpracticed scat singing. Anderson has a folk background, which is most noticeable in the way he sings: unaffectedly, with a Scots accent. He’s nonetheless easy on Yank ears (as opposed to, say, his countrymen in Arab Strap), with a crisp voice that might not ever get a stadium rocking but could reduce a well-sized coffeehouse to tears with such Celtic-sounding numbers as “Harper’s Dough,” a sort of entry-level “Mull of Kintyre” whose lyrics consist entirely of “You’ve got to rise above the gutter you are inside.” Elsewhere, Anderson gets appropriately (if mildly) dubbed-out on “Space” and turns the mike over to labelmate James Yorkston for “Lavender Moon,” which sounds as if it had been ripped forcibly from the soundtrack to The Wicker Man, nature sounds and all. Indeed, Kenny and Beth’s is such a hither-and-yon album that it’s sometimes tough to wrap your mind around it. Still, if Anderson takes a more single-minded approach to the next King Creosote record, he’ll inevitably sacrifice some of his charm—and your highway journeys of the future will be that much less interesting. —Andrew Beaujon