Scott Walker, Bill Callahan, Blue Nile, Leonard Cohen, and David Bowie. These are the influences I hear when I listen to Crowley. In fact, I can’t help but think this album would have been on the top of Cohen’s and Bowie’s new albums to listen to. It doesn’t hurt that Crowley has that rich baritone and does that half-speaking thing (recitative is the proper opera name for it) that Cohen did all the time and Bowie sometimes did. Though, Crowley is a bit more sonorant and on pitch than Cohen and has a deeper voice than Bowie. Crowley is best known for his album “Long Distance Swimmer” released in 2007 (11 years ago [anyone over 30 just had a mathematically induced heart attack]). He’s had three albums since then. And with each album release I’ve seen fewer fans posting online, less people taking time to write out the song lyrics, he’s got a solid 8-12 likes on youtube for the songs off this album. Well, why aren’t people talking about Crowley anymore? Did he do something wrong? Did he say a comment for/against trans people that I don’t know about? Did he invite people up to his hotel room and ask to masturbate in front of them? Did he play a game of grab-ass at some hotel bar in ’97? I don’t understand. Each of his album releases have been absolutely spot on. He’s only gotten better and has honed deeper into his art. Yet, as far as I can tell, writeups of this album are, “he’s still good…” Really? Is that all someone gets for continuing to grow as an artist and producing top grade albums for 20 fucking years? I understand part of his art is to be subtle and to say less to say more, but that doesn’t mean he should be forgotten.
Anyway, I must digress. This is how people get hernias. I think Crowley lost his guitar before for this album. And it’s great. Instead, it’s replaced with droning sounds and simple piano motifs. His voice speaks above this and tells stories. It’s not an imitation of Cohen, but it’s difficult not to hear this poetic lyricism dripping out of this album. “Halfway To Andalucia” for instance, is a letter to an ex-lover as he runs to another country rather than attending her wedding. “Silver Birch Tree” is about a woman carving her initials into a tree with Crowley playing the part of the tree. Or,
“You can rip it up into tiny pieces, dip it in paraffin, and set it alight. You can stash it under the carpet, cover it over and hide it from the light. But, still there’s desire.”
Jesus, that’s just Cohen reincarnated as a 50-year-old Irishman. The worlds this man creates are visceral, wide, wild, and honest. I’d argue it’s his best album yet. Now, if only people would listen to it.