Ballad of Crows is a warm, laid back melding of mountain folk and west coast Americana that combines the long-standing musical partnership of Scottish singer-songwriter Steve Crawford and fellow countryman and guitarist/mandolinist Pete Coutts. Joining them are German multi-instrumenatlist Sascha ‘Salossi’ Loss and Crawford’s long-term songwriting partner Davy Cattanach.
The west coast Americana influence is clearly evident with their Crosby Stills & Nash styled cover of Tim O’Brien’s Brother Wind and, featuring Gerry Kelly on banjo, a bluegrassy interpretation of Tom Petty’s American Girl. It’s also present on the band’s original material, most especially on the blues-folk Hard And Heavy Rain, which has hints of Woody Guthrie and features slide guitar by Fabio Nettekoven, and the fiddle and Cajun accordion driven Pink Flamingo.
Elsewhere, Ali Hutton’s whistle brings a Celtic tinge to Cattenach’s album highlight, The Buddha Song, while, with Jonny Hardie on fiddle, Empty Skies echoes Appalachian colours. Closing Eyes and the close-harmony Gravity’s Footsteps brings things closer to their Scottish folk roots and both Waiting For Return and the cello-accompanied Unburden Love conjure thoughts of Jackson Browne.
The strong echoes of late 70s/early 80s Laurel Canyon and its attendant soft folk rock vibe may slightly pigeonhole the potential audience, but those ears should be most certainly receptive.
Review by: Mike Davies