Adrian Crowley – The Watchful Eye of the Stars – Album Review
by Killian Laher
Adrian Crowley’s ninth album, his first in four years, sees him continuing his slide towards late period Leonard Cohen, accentuated by increased use of female backing vocals. Opener Northbound Stowaway is equal parts brooding and warm, Crowley’s natural state, with the strings giving the track an epic feel. He follows this up with a curveball, I Still See You Among Strangers, where he sings in an odd sounding higher register. More representative is the darker Underwater Song, like Smog in their “kitchen sink” phase (95/96).
It’s not all black, there’s a lightness of touch to Bread and Wine, the music is sensitive, strings are lush and gorgeous, a bit like the more joyous moments of Mark Lanegan’s early solo work. There’s what sounds like an oboe in the background with a sweet backing vocal from Katell Keineg. Later on in the album, the Cohen influence becomes more pronounced., in the way he speaks/ sings “this avalanche” on The Singalong and equally on the spoken word Crow Song. Ships On The Water heavily references the cello motif of Lou Reed’s Street Hassle, here on piano, while final track, the upbeat Take Me Driving is the most melodic and accessible moment.
The album flows really well and is something of a triumph for Adrian Crowley. Although probably one for darker evenings, it might well be his finest album to date.
1. Northbound Stowaway
2. I Still See You Among Strangers
3. Underwater Song
4. Bread and Wine
5. A Shut-In’s Lament
6. The Colours of the Night
7. The Singalong
8. Ships On The Water
9. Crow Song
10. Take Me Driving