Roving Crows – Bury Me Naked
Independent – 8 April 2017
Ten years ago, floods were about to sweep through the United Kingdom. And after the floods came the album Washed Away, from a newly formed Irish music duo, Elysian.
Now the UK is awash with the third full-length album by Roving Crows – a Worcestershire / Gloucestershire based band made up of Paul O’Neill and Caitlin Barrett from Elysian and fellow musicians Loz Shaw and Tim Downes-Hall.
Bury Me Naked opens with a swirl of new age folk music, which is followed by a mixture of folk-rock, Irish music, reggae and world music. The songs address social/environmental issues, human conditions (such as love and friendship) and the passing of time.
Paul O’Neill (lead vocals, electric and acoustic guitar) grew up in County Kildare, Ireland and spent time in Dublin and New York.
Caitlin Barrett (lead and backing vocals, fiddle) was born in England, but has deep Irish roots, with her mother born in County Donegal, Ireland.
Loz Shaw (backing vocals, bass, keyboards/synthesisers, baritone/electric/acoustic guitars, clarinet, banjolina, kalimba) produced the album (in conjunction with Roving Crows) – as well as undertaking its engineering, mixing and mastering – and seems to have contributed hints of his involvement with the melodic thrash/power metal band, Steeltrooper.
Tim Downes-Hall (drums/percussion, including bongos, congas, cymbals, djembes, timbale, shakers) is the grandson of a couple who entertained the troops during World War II and has a past that includes swing and Irish-punk bands.
Bury Me Naked includes several songs with a ’70s folk/pop sound, including Barrett’s Riverside (which “ reflects the realisation of inevitable change”) and O’Neill’s Glory Bound (a musically enthralling ten-minute track, structurally reminiscent of a song-cycle or a mini folk-rock opera).
Paul O’Neill wrote the title track, Bury Me Naked, after reading Dee Brown’s book, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West. Another of O’Neill’s songs, Refugee, reflects the band’s involvement with the local charity, Ledbury Refugee Support (“Sail away, sail away, yeah / War-torn refugee / World does not understand me”). And O’Neill’s reggae-influenced Passing on the Love tells the story of a couple whom he came to know whilst performing in Wales.
The middle section of Bury Me Naked contains a set of tunes – two written by Caitlin Barrett (Fire Sky and Tiger’s Eye) and one written by Michel Ferry (Farewell to Chernobyl).
Roving Crows’ social consciousness is revealed again in Paul O’Neill’s Revolution is Now, which opens delicately, progresses to rich drumming, then launches into folk-rock (“Do you know how great we can be? / We can take control / Be in mind and spirit free / Rescue what remains of your soul”).
The Last Breath, whose hauntingly beautiful music was written by Caitlin Barrett, includes a spoken word narrative by Paul O’Neill (“When the last river drips to a close / Clogged or cursed by our waste / Will we miss her then? / She has given life”). And closing the album is Irish songwriter Jimmy MacCarthy’s Ride On, with lead vocals from Barrett.
Roving Crows’ Bury Me Naked presents a kaleidoscopic view into the past, the present and the future, in a glorious musical setting which is broad in diversity, rich in sound and high in energy.
Over the coming months, Roving Crows has a string of gigs, including the Winchcombe Festival (May), Stonehenge Summer Solstice Festival (June), The Women Chainmakers’ Festival (July), Lakefest (August) and BunkFest (September).
Photo Credit: Nadia Phillpotts