For all the great singer-songwriters we have produced over the years we have yet to come up with a viable candidate to be ‘the Irish Nick Cave.’ We have lovelorn balladeers, folksy word-smiths, poetical troubadours (those three things may all be the same thing) but no one with the dark heart and sense of danger of a Nick Cave. It’s a pity really; our landscape and history warrants more songs about bodies of lovers being dragged out to the bog (I’m spit-balling here). Adrian Crowley‘s voice has always had something of a Nick Cave-esque growl to it, but it’s taken him to his sixth studio album, ‘I See Three Birds Flying’, before the subject matter also matches that foreboding voice.
It’s not that Crowley’s previous efforts were happy-clappy songs about living it up in the sunshine, but this seems like his most relentlessly doom-laden album; not in any way a bad thing. Alice Among The Pines seems to despair at the process of creating lyrics (“words on a page/for the sake of a rhyme/Alice among the pines”). That’s immediately followed by The Saddest Song; which, despite the title, probably doesn’t claim that particular crown on this album – Lady Lazurus would get my vote – but each and every song carries it’s own sense of melancholy.
Some could quibble that the downbeat tone is too much for an entire album but it’s hard to see how a light, airy number would even fit on here. Plus, if you’re in the mood for some gloomy music, that’s generally your mood for at least the length of an album. If there is one criticism it’s with the arrangements; plenty of haunting strings and nice guitar plucking but little else beside. How about a heavy, relentless piano in there from time to time? But that’s a small enough complaint. If you like your singer songwriters to come with an dark edge then you will like this. You will like this a lot.