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.
Steve and Pete have written several songs, often in partnership with Davy Cattenach whose solo contribution, ‘The Buddha Song’ is a sparkling piece decorated by Ali Hutton’s whistle – foot-tapping while making a very good point. The band also borrows Tom Petty’s ‘American Girl’ and Tim O’Brien’s ‘Brother Wind’. Pete’s mandolin is central to Ballad Of Crows’ style with Steve handling guitar and lead vocals and the sound could be a little stark but for Salossi’s instrumental decoration and backing vocals. There are guest instrumentalists on some tracks: slide guitar, accordion, fiddle, banjo and cello make important contributions. ‘Hard And Heavy Rain’ is energised by Fabio Nettekoven’s slide and Jonny Hardie’s fiddle is the key ingredient of the second track, ‘Empty Skies’.
If I wanted to be critical, and it is my job after all, I wouldn’t have opened with ‘Closing Eyes’. It’s a lovely, gentle acoustic guitar led song but it gives the wrong impression of what is to follow – somewhere in the middle of the set where it makes for a change of pace would have been better. That very minor point aside, this really is a good album.
Artists’ website: https://www.facebook.com/BalladofCrows
‘Brother Wind’ live: