As its emotive title Season of the Sparks may suggest, Adrian Crowley’s fifth album is one of bristling, tactile atmospheres. It represents a point, after ten years of writing music, where his words, his music and the influence of his collaborators all meet in a perfect, joyous place.
Crowley’s career is best defined by his album-work. His specific craft is the cohesive flow, the collection, the beginning, middle and end. More than just a writer of songs, he etches out journeys, where each character, story or incident within his songs feels like a stepping-stone to the next character, story or incident. Season of the Sparks is like the best type of short story book where each tale seems magically connected to the rest. Maybe it’s the striking sense of incandescence that unites all these particular stories/songs.
Moving away from the sea/water themed imagery of his previous record, the Choice Music Prize nominated Long Distance Swimmer, his latest album is flush with Arcadian detail; birds and bees, lush vines, honeycombs, kindling, and dreaming horses. It might bring to mind Bill Callahan at his brightest, or an excerpt from one of John McGahern’s consumed passages on the buzz of rural life.
It’s as if from this descriptive cosmos spills the music itself – a mysterious cacophony of odd phosphorescent instruments such as mellotron, harmonium, Rhodes and shruti box, and of course a plentitude of strings from Kevin Murphy’s cello, Marja Gaynor’s mesmerizing baroque viola and some absolutely astonishing arrangement from acclaimed London duo Geese. Crowley, an honorary affiliate of the Fence Collective in Fife, has made many great connections with other musicians throughout his travels. Several of those relationships blossom spectacularly on these recordings.
Ivor Cutler’s fruity ditty Squeeze Bees is embedded in the middle of this record in a wheezing din of marxophone (no, I’ve no idea either). What’s interesting is how the late oddball humorist’s song fits so seamlessly into Crowley’s world.
Despite all this decoration, Season of the Sparks never becomes too weighed down in the pastoral. The big surging chorus on The Wishing Seat or the stratospheric swirl and flickering drums of Liberty Stream are perfectly measured breaks in tempo. At the heart of all this is Crowley’s own, deeply natural Irish narration brooding through each song, captured expertly by close-collaborator Stephen Shannon, a quite brilliant yet-to-be-discovered producer in Dublin.
Adrian Crowley’s fifth album Season of the Sparks is released through TIN ANGEL on april 24th and is a celebration of so many things; friends, the world around him, and the world within him.
More music available here at his myspace
and here on his TIN ANGEL artist page