The Galway tunesmith has been something of a hidden national treasure for a decade now and even winning the Choice Music Prize five years ago didn’t elevate him into the consciousness of the general public.
aybe that’s no bad thing: artists like Adrian Crowley don’t make the kind of music that fits into simple categories and ticks the sort of boxes hugely popular, but comparatively empty, singers like Ed Sheeran do.
This is his sixth album and his best since 2007’s Long Distance Swimmer. Once more, he demonstrates a poet’s eye for detail when it comes to the business of lyric writing – is there a more evocative lyricist in Ireland today?
And his baritone – a distinct and powerful instrument – has rarely sounded better. It’s that rich, sonorous voice that takes songs like the delicate ‘The Stranger’ and the more punchy ‘Angel’ into a realm beyond many of his peers.
Strings are employed more than before, yet the bare bones structure that has served him so well in the past is, wisely, retained here and there.
It says something about Crowley’s confidence in his abilities that he opts to deliver on of the album’s strongest compositions, ‘The Wild Boar’, as a spoken-worded tone-poem and not a conventional song.
Quietly gorgeous stuff.
Key tracks: ‘The Wild Boar’; ‘The Stranger’