The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Franco-Irish relations are at a bit of a low point these times. (No need for us to go into the why of it here.) Fortunately, 2009 will end with some good news from France for one of our best-loved performers.

Adrian Crowley'Season Of The Sparks' by Adrian Crowley, full-time singer-songer and part-time festival curator, has got a rave review in the current issue of Les Inrockuptibles. This is excellent news for Crowley - Les Inrocks is France's biggest-selling and most influential music and culture magazine. Crowley lived in Toulouse for a while some years ago, so no doubt he'll be especially pleased by this notice. (Carly Sings and Duke Special have previously got the rave from Les Inrocks too.)

Obviously you'd like to know what the handballers are saying about our man. Well, we should point out that Les Inrocks has a very florid and pretentious style. That said, we've translated for you the entire review of Richard Robert from Les Inrockuptibles:

The enchanter

Dazzling in writing and execution, Irishman Adrian Crowley joins the circle of songwriters who are as impressionistic as they are impressive.

By the magic of an alchemy for which the formula escapes us, certain musicians gather in their hands all the beauty that enchants the lives of us music-lovers and mould it into a form at once immediately familiar and totally unheard-of. With his writing of pedigree and his baritone timbre, Irishman Adrian Crowley (already on his fourth album) joins this exclusive category of enchanters. With its classic dimensions (ten tracks, 36 minutes), its disdain for the spectacular and its unshakably balanced tone, 'Season Of The Sparks' will hardly rock the songwriting world to its foundations. However, it causes a considerable effect which lingers long after its final notes have faded away.

It is a miracle of equilibrium and elegance that few collections of songs are able to provoke, a unique mix of melodic clarity (established in the enchanting 'Summer Haze Paradise' and later confirmed in already-classic songs like 'The Wishing Seat', 'Liberty Stream' and 'Season Of The Sparks'), harmonic finesse and instrumental draughtsmanship, heightened by an art that is consummate in its execution.

Sensitive in his lyrics, Crowley's attention to natural elements finds its full expression in the organic and hazy textures that adorn his ballads in a minor key: electric guitars unravelling in unreal threads ('The Beekeeper's Wife', 'Squeeze Bees'), strings streaming like autumn rain ('The Three Sisters', 'Swedish Room'), echoing synthesisers covering each song in a shimmering veil...

Adrian Crowley crosses these special lands with a deceptively impassive voice that at times evokes the warm richness of Bill Callahan. And when he finally disappears after a final moment of grace (the suspenseful 'Pay No Mind') he leaves the obsessive memory of a fantastic wizard bewitching our consciences by means which he'll keep a secret until the end.

(original review by Richard Robert/Les Inrockuptibles, translated by Aidan Curran)

Well! Fair play to him - let's hope this is the beginning of great success for him here in France. You can listen to these enchanting tunes on Adrian Crowley's MySpace page. Here's the video for 'The Wishing Seat':

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2007 - REM live in the Olympia, by Michael O'Hara. Possibly the definitive review of any of REM's performances during their 2007 Olympia residency. Even the official REM website linked to it.