Ballad Of Crows – strides confidently across bridge-spanning music
(April 03, 2015)
There’s a rare subtly at work in the music of Ballad Of Crows. Blending tradition and innovation, mixing elements of both Celtic and Americana, they write and play a fusion that resists classification, yet strides confidently across the bridges that span music. Their album, ‘Ballad Of Crows’ is a wholly engrossing delivery of accomplished musicianship, eloquent lyrics and evocative harmonies. Entirely their own sound, there’s a memory-touching edge to their songs that evokes the past as much as it touches the present … to summarise in a word ‘timeless’.
Throughout the album a myriad tiny echoes make their presence felt … traces of vocal delivery that catch your ear, elusive melodies that you wish would remain, softly-placed lyrics that make indelible marks. Taken as a whole this album is supremely listenable and richly enduring. Take any track and they pull you in. The questions asked in ‘Empty Skies’, the captivating ‘Buddah Song’ with its entrancing whistle accents, lonesome wanderings in ‘Brother Wind’, the heartache of ‘Waiting for Return’ and a vibrant banjo-mandolin-driven take on Tom Petty’s ‘American Girl’.
Ballad Of Crows is Steve Crawford (guitar, vocals) and Pete Coutts (guitar, mandolin, vocals) and Sacha ‘Salossi’ Loss (guitar, guitalele, fiddle, upright bass, harmonica, vocals) – joining them on the album are Jonny Hardie (fiddle) Ali Hutton (whistle) Fabio Nettekoven (slide guitar) Chris Hall (Cajun accordion) Graham Coe (cello) and Gerry Kelly (banjo).
Reviewer: Charlie Elland
Ballad of Crows
by Rudie Humphrey
First of all you want to own this record, something about the sleeve says, “own me”, and a combination of that and a very cool name means you aren’t disappointed
It’s just great harmonies, a rash of some great picking and some complimentary fiddle throughout, the relaxed, down home feel with layer ‘Eagles’ vocal that means all is ok with world as lazer hits disc. I love its blend of Westcoast sunshine and old ‘skool’ Nashville.
‘The Buddha Song’ we take a Celtic turn, as pipes and whistles get added to the mix, it’s not unrequited, just a bit unnecessary, when they do what they do so well. The whole thing just sounds like people having a good time playing music – what’s not to like, when they strike up the mandolin it’s the difference in turning them from being ordinary and being special. T6 rips along at a furious pace, with the chug chug guitar that’s all too familiar, the vocals are reminiscent of Shawn Mullins – again what’s not to like.
If this is their calling card then it leaves you wanting to see them live, the effortless shifts of pace, it is harsh on Steve Crawford, but I prefer Pete Coutts voice, it’s more rootsy. The Cajun accordion is also most welcome on TX and the line about “pecking crows” is great. If there is one minor flaw, and this is just being picky, it should end with the cover of Petty’s American Girl, there‘s ‘Wind’ from Tim O’Brien, the whole piece is quality throughout, well picked covers, well played, well worth it.
13. Aug • Strassenstaub festival • Dortmund, Nordrhein-Westfalen
14. Aug • Schlauer Bauer Openair • Wetikon, Switzerland
10. Sept • Kulturmühle Buchhagen • Bodenwerder, Germany
30. Sept • Ballad Of Crows & Gronau • More details TBA
19. Oct • Buchhandlung Schmid • Schwabmünchen, Germany
05. Dec • Meneer Frits • Eindhoven, Netherlands
08. Dec • De Bunker • Gemert, Netherlands
10. Dec • Alte Schule • Müllenbach, Germany
17. Dec • Pentinghausen • Marienheide, Germany
Back to the UK (and Germany) for this eponymous album featuring Steve Crawford and Pete Coutts along with Sascha “Salossi” Loss. With a sound that fuses classic west coast harmonies with a traditional Scottish feel there’s a temptation to recall the likes of Gallagher & Lyle all those years ago but BOC are rootsier. Continue reading →
Steve Crawford and Pete Coutts have been playing together in various line-ups for two Decades. With the addition of multi-instrumentalist Sascha “Salossi” Loss They Became a Scots-German trio playing what might be called Americana with a European twist and made Their debut album. Continue reading →