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I See Three Birds Flying
New album from one of this country’s most unique and distinctive musical artists...
Olaf Tyaransen, 10 Sep 2012
Coming 13 years on from his acclaimed 1999 debut A Strange Kind, and three after his Choice-winning Season Of The Sparks, this sixth album from Adrian Crowley sees the talented Malta-born, Galway-raised musician resolutely sticking to his guns. That those guns have silencers attached makes them no less deadly or effective.
Crowley began his career quietly, melancholically and mournfully, and for the most part he’s still artfully ploughing that lonely but fruitful furrow. Very much a singer-songwriter’s singer-songwriter, it’s not really possible to casually listen to a Crowley song. Deeply contemplative, gently evocative and wonderfully literate, he creates hushed mini-worlds that you respectfully visit. Putting on one of his albums is like entering a church. Whatever you do, don’t play him at a party!
Co-produced with long-time stalwart Stephen Shannon, I See Three Birds Flying is a relatively sparse affair musically. Crowley strums his guitar or tinkles the ivories, veteran sticksman David Hingerty is on percussion, and Cork cellist Kevin Murphy and London-based duo Geese (Emma Smith and Vincent Sipprell) supply the strings. Together they create a near timeless pastoral sound.
From album opener ‘Alice Among The Pines’ to closer ‘September Wine’, the mood doesn’t stray too far from sombre. Delivered in Crowley’s gentle baritone, these 11 tracks sound like vintage vignettes or laments (though ‘The Morning Bells’ has a slight touch of Mercury Rev-unplugged about it). He almost succeeds in the expressed ambition of ‘The Saddest Song’, a song about writing a song: “And I turned away from the darkened window/ To light the lantern on the night table/ And opened up the virgin pages/ And I tried to write/ The saddest song in the world.”
Crowley has been compared to everyone from Cohen and Drake to Callahan and Wyatt, and there’s no arguing with any of those influences. However, he also has a little something special of his own that marks him out as one of this country’s most unique and distinctive musical artists.