They say pictures paint a thousand words and if they do then what does the artwork on the Roving Crows new album suggest?
Firstly the cover, monochrome, a bare back, tattooed patterned crows, wings spread an amalgamation of three drawn together. Power.
Inside, the band on stage, in full flight, rocking raucously. Energy.
Clean cut smiling profiles, happy confident, assured before moody silhouettes of the back cover set against thick cotton wool clouds, a storm might be about to brew but for now the sun shines.
And in a way what you see is what you get, Roving Crows are one minute hard rocking grabbing your attention before revealing a softer more thoughtful side.
Driven by Paul O'Neil's guitar and the swirling repetitive almost hypnotic fiddle work of Caitlin Barrett the opening track "Bury Me Naked", a tribute to Native Americans and inspired by Dee Brown's book on the Indian history of the West "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" sets the scene perfectly. A meld of cultures and music coming together under the banner of Celtic Folk Rock.
"Refugees" adds an infectious reggae beat with the rhythm laid down by Loz Shaw on bass and Tim Downes-Hall on percussion, a perfect festival song.
Slowing the tempo down, Barrett conjures up a perfect Sunday by the riverside before contrasting this with the view that it's a moment in time that cannot last, things must change and it's how you (we) address those thoughts.
Any form of contemplation swiftly flies out of the window as a trio of tunes burst forth, two from Barrett's pen with "Farewell To Chernobyl" regularly associated with Sharon Shannon, the meat in the sandwich.
Songs flow, tackling subjects such as the trials of friendship (If I Had To Choose), to the facing of impending death and the way we push our loved ones away (Passing On The Love), the latter ending as a joyous up-tempo reflection of togetherness.
A spoken lament "The Last Breath" invites us to consider our ecological stance whilst in the background the fiddle drips emotion and tugs at our heartstrings.
No such subtlety with the next track as a percussion driven intro heralds a twist towards prog rock, O'Neil's snarling vocals adding their not inconsiderable weight as he reaches a crescendo with "The System ain't broken, the System is rigged" social commentary for present times.
The penultimate "Glory Bound" is an epic ten minutes of powerful folk rock which showcases the whole band, it's the standout track for me of this, their third full album and their first for four years.
Overall the Roving Crows are a band you should not miss - This is folk rock with a conscience, impeccably performed, what's not to like.
|Christy Scott: Amaranthine (EP)||Matt Quinn: The Brighton Line|
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