ADRIAN CROWLEY-SOME BLUE MORNING.
ADRIAN CROWLEY-SOME BLUE MORNING.
Adrian Crowley never intended to be a musician. Originally, the Galway born singer-songwriter studied architecture, painting and photography. In his spare time, Adrian wrote a few songs. He never performed any of these songs until 1993, when Adrian was twenty-five. That was when Adrian first performed live. This show might never have happened though.
Just a few days before Adrian made his musical debut, he was looking through his attic. That’s where he found some songs he’d penned in early nineties. These songs became his debut set. Since then, Adrian hasn’t looked back. He’s just released his new album Some Blue Morning, on Chemikal Underground. It’s his seventh album since his 1999 debut.
It was back in 1999, that Adrian Crowley’s career began in earnest. Adrian Crowley was thirty-one, a relative latecomer to music. He was born in Slimea, in Malta in 1968 to an Irish father and Maltese mother. After Adrian’s birth, his family lived in Sierra Leone, Cameroon and Malta. By the early nineties, Adrian had settled in Dublin. Apart from some time spent in France, Dublin has been home to Adrian Crowley.
That’s where Adrian Crowley made his musical debut as a twenty-five year old. Adrian was an accidental singer-songwriter. If he hadn’t discovered the long lost songs in his attic, he might never have made his debut. Thankfully, he did. Six years later, Adrian released his debut album.
A Strange Kind.
It wasn’t until 1999, that Adrian released his debut album A Strange Kind. It was independently released on the Lam 99 label. Capricorn, the lead single, received some radio play and the album was well received upon its release. This was many people’s introduction to Adrian Crowley. The accidental singer-songwriter’s sophomore album arrived three years later.
When You Are Here You Are Family.
Adrian’s sophomore album was When You Are Here You Are Family. It was recorded over Easter 2001, at Electrical Audio studios in Chicago. This is home to Steve Albini. He recorded and mixed When You Are Here You Are Family.
When people heard that Adrian had worked with Steve on When You Are Here You Are Family, this gave his career a boost.
When You Are Here You Are Family was well received by critics. They saw what Steve Albini saw in Adrian, a talented singer-songwriter, who painted pictures with his music on When You Are Here You Are Family. It’s best described as fusion of folk-rock and indie rock, which Steve Albini helped hone. For Adrian, Steve’s involvement proved advantageous.
American record labels started paying attention to Adrian Crowley. A number of American labels began taking an interest in Adrian Crowley.
Eventually, Adrian signed to the New York based label Ba Da Bing! They were meant to release Adrian’s next two albums, including A Northern Country.
A Northern Country.
Two years passed between the release of When You Are Here You Are Family and Adrian’s delayed third album, A Northern Country. It had been an eventful time for Adrian. His contract with Ba Da Bing! didn’t work out. He was now signed to a smaller label, Misplaced Music. That’s why two years had passed between albums. For Adrian this was a huge disappointment.
He’d been on the cusp of making a commercial breakthrough. Steve Albini had mixed his sophomore album, and he’d signed to an American label. When that didn’t work out, it was as if he’d taken one step forward and two steps backwards. At least however, he had a record deal. Now belatedly, A Northern Country was released in 2004.
A Northern Country was released in 2004. It was mixed and produced by Thomas Haugh and saw a change in diction from Adrian. Acoustic, country and folk rock combine on A Northern Country. It was well received by critics. However, later, Adrian Crowley called A Northern Country as “the least ceremonious album of them all.” That’s not surprising, given what he been through. His luck, however, was about to change.
Long Distance Swimmer.
In 2004, Adrian decided to commit his future to music. This meant he had to give up his full time job as a photographer. It would prove to be the best decision he made.
Three years later, Adrian released his first album since becoming a full time musician. This was Long Distance Swimmer, Adrian’s fourth album.
Long Distance Swimmer was recorded at various locations between winter 2005 and spring 2006. This included at Adrian’s Dublin home, Thomas Haugh’s home and at producer Stephen Shannon’s Studio. A total of twelve tracks were recorded. They became Long Distance Swimmer, which was a game changer.
On its release, Long Distance Swimmer was critically acclaimed. Long Distance Swimmer was a career defining album for Adrian. Comparisons were drawn with Nick Drake and Tim Buckley, whose influence shawn through on Long Distance Swimmer, which was hailed a fusion of post rock, lo-fi and folk-rock. Before long,things got even better for Adrian.
Later in 2007, Long Distance Swimmer was nominated for the Choice Music Prize. At the end of the year, Long Distance Swimmer was included in the best of 2007 lists. This didn’t go unnoticed.
Chemikal Underground, the Glasgow based record label watched with interest. They were just one of a number of labels considering signing Adrian. Eventually, a deal was signed and Adrian was the latest musical luminary signed to Chemikal Underground. His Chemikal Underground debut was Season Of The Sparks.
Season Of The Sparks.
Another two years passed before Season Of The Sparks was released in 2009. This was Adrian’s Chemikal Underground debut. Again, Season Of The Sparks was produced by Adrian and Stephen Shannon. They’d worked successfully on Long Distance Swimmer, so renewed their partnership on Season Of The Sparks.
Ten tracks featured on Season Of The Sparks, when it was released in 2009. It was released to glittering reviews. Described as pastoral and beautiful, Season Of The Sparks was hailed Adrian’s most consistent album. When critics looked for comparisons, they compared Adrian to musical luminaries like Al Stewart and Leonard Cohen. Adrian Crowley, it seemed, was going places.
When the end of year awards were dished out, Adrian Season Of The Sparks won Season of the Sparks won the Choice Music Prize for Irish Album of the Year 2009. This came with a €10,000 cheque. For Adrian Crowley, 2009 was the best year of his ten year recording career.
I See Three Birds Flying.
After the success of Season Of The Sparks, Adrian resisted the urge to rush out a followup. He waited three years, before I See Three Birds Flying was released, in 2012. It was worth the wait.
When I See Three Birds Flying was released on Chemikal Underground in 2012, it was to widespread critical acclaim. It seemed Adrian could do no wrong. The Irish troubadour was going from strength-to-strength. Both critics and record buyers were one over by I See Three Birds Flying, which built on Season Of The Sparks. With every album, Adrian seemed to be developing and evolving as an artist. Will this continue on his latest album Some Blue Morning, which was recently released on Chemikal Underground.
Some Blue Morning.
For Some Blue Morning, Adrian penned eleven new songs. They were recorded at Experimental Audio, Dublin between winter 2013 and spring 2014. Accompanying Adrian, was a small, but talented band.
There’s no need for a large band on an Adrian Crowley session. Not when Adrian is a multi-instrumentalist. Guitars, violin, harmonium, synth, auto harp, marxophone, omnichord, clarinet saxophones and sound effects. Adrian’s co-producer, Stephen Shannon, plays guitar, bass and organ and Dan Higgerty drums. They were joined by cellist Kevin Murphy, violinist Emma Smith, violist Vince Sipprell and Ted Barnes on hammered dulcimer. Katie Sim added backing vocals on Some Blue Morning, which I’ll tell you about.
Some Blue Morning opens with the title-track. A harmonium plays and strings shimmer, before Adrian delivers a a slow, heartfelt hopeful vocal. Ethereal backing vocal provide a perfect foil to the strings. Together, they frame Adrian’s vocal as he delivers lyrics that are filled with hope, hope for a better future with the woman he loves. A quite beautiful song.
The Hungry Grass is best described as a cinematic track. From the get-go, Adrian sets the scene. Swathes of strings sweep and swirl, while drums pound. They add an element of drama, before once again, Adrian dawns the role of troubadour. His pensive, thoughtful vocal is accompanied by a multilayered, widescreen arrangement. It sweeps behind Adrian’s vocal, and then when the vocal drops out, replaces it. After that, the swells of drama unfold, on this cinematic track, which sounds like it should feature on the new series Twin Peaks.
Just a thoughtful acoustic guitar opens The Magpie Song. Soon, Adrian’s melancholy vocal enters. It sounds as if it’s been influenced by Johnny Cash. There’s a darkness to the lyrics, with their symbolism, and references to death. Swells and swathes of string add an element of drama, as Adrian sings “the magpie calls my name.” This is the signal for ethereal, angelic harmonies to sweep in, as if this is Adrian’s signal to “drift away.”
Just like on other tracks, The Stranger sees Adrain paints pictures. His vocal breathes life and meaning into his lyrics. He’s accompanied by an understated arrangement. Drums provide the heartbeat, while strings sweep and a harmonium plays. Adrian also unleashes a myriad of disparate instruments. From the acoustic guitar to the omnichord, they provide the perfect backdrop to this autumnal song, where strangers pass in the night.
“The only trouble you get around here, is when wet leaves stick to the railway track” opens Trouble. It’s like a lyric Nick Drake might have written. Just like Adrian, Nick was a wordsmith and storyteller. Here, Adrian’s lived-in, worldweary voice brings the lyrics to life. Especially with Katie Kim’s backing vocals accompanying him. So much so, that when you shut your eyes, the story unfolds before your eyes. You can imagine Adrian playing piano in the hotel lounge, during the long winter months. The reason for this, is the way Adrian delivers the lyrics, breathing life and meaning into them.
Washes of effects meander into the distance, as The Gift unfolds. They quiver, shiver and shimmer, teasing and toying with you. Before long, they’re gone, leaving just a pleasant memory.
Understated and dramatic collide head on, on The Angel. When Adrian’s vocal enters, it’s earnest and impassioned. Swathes of strings sweep urgently, as if to draw your attention to Adrian’s vocal. It’s delivered with a similar urgency and power. When it drops out, the strings combine drama and urgency on what’s one of Some Blue Morning’s highlights.
Wistful. That describes Follow If You Must. What sounds like waves breaking on a beach opens the track. Then just an acoustic guitar accompanies Adrian’s fragile vocal. Later, soothing harmonies accompany Adrian’s vocal. It’s a mixture of heartbreak and hurt. As he sings “Follow If You Must,” he sounds unsure whether he wants his partner to follow. It’s as if he’s loath to go through the pain and hurt again.
Adrian’s Dublin brogue shines through as he reads the lyrics to The Wild Boar. All the time, he’s accompanied by a meandering, chiming guitar and washes of effects. Later, an autoharp is plucked. Space is left in the arrangement. This adds to the mystery and drama, before Adrian throws a curveball.
As The Hatchet Song unfolds, it’s akin to an ethereal soundscape. Adrian deliberately plucks his guitar, allowing it to reverberate into the distance. It becomes a wash of of shimmering, glistening music. Then as the arrangement pauses, Adrian plucks his guitar and his vocal begins. It’s tender, and full of determination. He’s determined that nothing will get in the way of his love for his partner.
Golden Palaminos closes Some Blue Morning. Just Adrian’s pensive vocal and his trusty acoustic guitar combine. As he plucks his guitar he ponders, and philosophises bout how time slips away. He sings: “our days are Golden Palaminos, galloping away.” Accompanying Adrian are tender backing vocals and a harmonium. Together they play a part in a beautiful song, that makes you think about how quickly times slips away. It’s a beautiful, thoughtful way to close Some Blue Morning.
Although Adrian Crowley only released his debut album back in 1999, he’s come a long way since then. His career took-off after 2007s Long Distance Swimmer. Released to widespread critical acclaim, on Distance Swimmer was a building block for Adrian Crowley. It was the foundation to a successful career. Since then, has never looked back.
Long Distance Swimmer was a game-changer of an album. Since then, Adrian’s career has been in the ascendancy. Both critics and music lovers have been following the rise and rise of Adrian Crowley, the Dublin based troubadour.
He might have been a latecomer to music, but Adrian Crowley has been making up for lost time. Proof of that are his trio of albums for Glasgow based Chemikal Underground. 2009s award winning Season Of The Sparks, saw Adrian’s career continue on an upward trajectory. He didn’t rush out a followup. No. Keeping a cool head, he waited three years before releasing I See Three Birds Flying.
This calculated gamble paid off. I See Three Birds Flying picked up where Long Distance Swimmer left off, and saw Adrian’s music progress to the next level. No wonder. Adrian had matured and evolved as an artist, in the thee intervening years. His profile had risen, since the release of Season Of The Sparks. Another two years have passed, and Adrian has released his latest critically acclaimed album Some Blue Morning.
Wistful, melancholy, hopeful and cinematic describes Some Blue Morning, which was recently released on Chemikal Underground. Some Blue Morning features eleven songs from the pen of Adrian Crowley. They’re based upon Adrian Crowley life and experiences. Many of the songs are akin to short stories. They unfold before your eyes, while as Adrian Crowley becomes a storyteller par excellence. His lyrics come to life, as Adrian breathes life, meaning and emotion to the lyrics. Accompanied by a tight, talented band, these songs become like the soundtrack to a film that’s yet to be made.
There’s a reason for this. Adrian Crowley’s songs have a cinematic quality. Some of the songs wouldn’t sound out of place in a David Lynch or Wim Wenders film. That’s how good they are. Indeed, the songs on Some Blue Morning include some of the best of Adrian Crowley’s careers. That’s why Some Blue Morning is a career defining album for Dublin based troubadour, Adrian Crowley.
ADRIAN CROWLEY-SOME BLUE MORNING.