ROVING CROWS – Bury Me Naked (own label RC008)

Bury Me Naked

Based around Worcestershire and Gloucestershire they may be, but with fiddle player Caitlin Barrett and guitarist Paul O’Neil sharing vocals, Loz Shaw on bass, keys vocals guitars, clarinet and banjolina and Tim Downes-Hall on a variety of ethnic hand percussion, Roving Crows are very much of a Celtic folk rock persuasion, with a pinch of prog to go with it. Case in point is the title track, ‘Bury Me Naked’, a song inspired by the book Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, which opens akin to an orchestra tuning up, introduces a desert wind guitar and, over the course of the next five minutes scraped fiddle across a moody, atmospheric swirl conjuring Middle Eastern bazaar images. The colours are also evident in the background of the more acoustic ‘New York Love Song’, about a bittersweet relationship with the Big Apple, but, as it gathers pace, the Celtic winds blow more forcefully.

For a four piece they create rich and diverse musical textures, often very much percussive driven, with ‘Refugee’ introducing a lurching bass driven rhythm that has its roots as much in African townships as it does reggae before the folksier Barrett-penned, impermanence themed ‘Riverside’, the first on which she sings lead, lazes through a dappled melody line, the instrumentation again gradually building as the song progresses. She’s also responsible for two-thirds of the tunes that make up the frenzied instrumental ‘Fire Sky’, that and ‘Tiger’s Eye’ sandwiching ‘Farewell To Chernobyl’, an Irish reel learned from Sharon Shannon.

Set to an initial tick tocking rhythm, ‘If I Had To Choose’ brings O’Neil back to the mic for a musing on the meaning and values of love, the slight reggaed lurch here considerably more pronounced on the ensuing very Marleyesque true story ‘Passing On The Love’.

‘The Last Breath’ is different again, Barrett’s fiddle providing the accompaniment to O’Neill’s spoken word ecological lyrics about taking better care of the planet which, in turn, gives way to the heavy drumming salvos of the discordant fiddle and guitars of ‘Revolution Is Now’, a number that conjures thoughts of the 60s psychedelic jams of The Chamber Brothers had they had Celtic rather than African blood in their veins.

Then, heralded by cymbal shimmers and a circling guitar line before percussion and fiddle enter the weave, comes the ten minute brooding prog folk-rock epic that is ‘Glory Bound’, a gatheringly urgent number that sounds nothing like its description of being written in a lonely moment, in a quiet house in a sleepy valley, but more like in the eye of a storm.

They end with a cover, Barrett again taking lead on their rumbling widescreen arrangement of Jimmy MacCarthy’s much covered ‘Ride On’. It doesn’t displace Christy Moore’s as the seminal version, but it’s certainly up there with the best.

An adventurous and inspired heady cocktail of Celtic and world music with a social conscience and a beating heart, you’re well advised to cast a roving eye and ear in its direction.

Mike Davies

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the ROVING CROWS – Bury Me Naked link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

DOWNLOAD – [CD]

Artists’ website: www.rovingcrows.com

‘Riverside’, the single – official video:

Roving Crows Win ‘Band of the Year’ Award

The Roving CrowsCongratulations to the  ‘Roving Crows’ that won the ‘Band of the Year’ FATEA music award. Other nominees included Bellowhead and duo Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin.

The Herefordshire based folk-fusion five piece can proudly add this highly sort-after prize to the awards they collected in 2012 – Top Celtic Rock Band and Top Fiddle Player at The Irish Music Awards; Top Folk Act, Exposure Music Awards. Continue reading Roving Crows Win ‘Band of the Year’ Award

The Roving Crows – Bacchanalia

Dear Roving Crows – Where have you been all my life?

OK, I see you only formed in 2009. Is that even possible? How in the heck do you weave such distinct sounds from jazz, western swing, and blues through your classic Celtic folk foundation when your band is practically in its musical infancy?

Clearly, you’re all incredible musicians. Paul O’Neil’s sparkling guitar playing, Gregory Wilson-Copp’s Dixieland Jazz-spirited trumpet, and Tim Tolhurst’s vibrant percussion are all first-rate. I have to admit, though, that it’s Caitlin Barrett’s fiddle that stole my heart and kept me around for the whole album. Her playing is so masterful, whether it’s leading or highlighting a tune that it tends to steal the spotlight in several songs.

But I digress.

On your new album “Bacchanalia” you dip into all kinds of musical genres starting with “Long Time Dead.” Can we be honest? When I first heard this Dixieland Jazz number, I wasn’t really into it. There’s no doubt it’s a beautifully played song, but it’s a Dixieland Jazz gem. That’s just not my thing. I stuck around, though, because I heard and loved the fiddle on that track.

Of course I realize that the fiddle isn’t everyone’s thing either. And some folks adore Dixieland Jazz. The point I’m making is that by starting the album with two strong Dixieland numbers, it sets up expectations on both sides of the aisle.

As a not-huge-Dixieland-fan-type, failing to listen to the entire album would have been my loss. For those that really prefer Dixieland, stopping the music when heavy-duty Dixieland ends would be a shame, too, for other reasons.

To me, when you toned down the Dixieland influences on subsequent tracks, your music really blossomed. Consider “Roll on Tomorrow.” Sure, there is Dixieland sound aplenty on that track, but it’s mixed with a super-sized dollop of folk by way of fiddles and harmony. To my ear, that makes it a more interesting tune.

It’s when you get to “White Petticoat,” where Barrett and her fiddle are set free, the old-time Dixie-folk infused “That Was Then,” and the jazzy-blues-folk soaked “Woman After My Own Heart” that lightly sprinkles trumpet through the piece that your band really shines. And did I mention that “President Garfield,” is truly a folk triumph thanks to the arrangement that marries fiddle and trumpet and drums as equal partners?

Everybody is entitled to occasionally lean heavily toward one genre or another when they’re dabbling in the incredibly challenging world of musical fusion. Even just working in fusion is cause for celebration because it lures fans of other formats into the party.

Not everyone loves fiddle. Or trumpet. Or Dixieland. Or blues. But when you unite disparate sounds, as you do so beautifully on so many tracks, some of us purists are lured in and want to stay and explore. I sure do!

So nice to meet you, Roving Crows. I look forward to hearing much more from you as we move ahead. NANCY DUNHAM

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artist web link: www.rovingcrows.com