January 1, 2007

Father, There Swims a Swan (Crooked Still)

Cover art: Shaken By A Low Sound

So, I was surfing Mike’s linkblog the other day as I often do when I came upon a comment he had about an album which he called “his favorite album of the year so far.” A link took me to the website of a Boston group called Crooked Still.

I think I mumbled something to Ryan as I looked at the page devoted to Crooked Still’s recordings. Seconds later I’d clicked one of the song samples and Ryan was over at my desk to find out who these people are. Mike’s got good taste in music!

The group is made up of a lead vocalist (female), a cello, a bass and a banjo. They play traditional music. I guess you’d call some of it bluegrass, but I’m no “musicalologist.” They’re from the Boston area, with an impressive resume. Berklee, New England Conservatory and… MIT.

The song samples for “Little Sadie,” “Ain’t No Grave” and “Wind and Rain” knocked me out of my seat. I had a Newbury Comics gift card that I’d been holding since my birthday (thanks Sara!) — I finally knew how I was going to use it. Out to Newbury Comics and back to the office to find out that those weren’t even going to be my favorite tracks on the CD. For me, the high point is their slow, rich version of a Robert Johnson song “Come On In My Kitchen.” As I told my daughters, if you close your eyes you can hear the rain plinking on the kitchen roof in this blues song.

It’s great when you can make a connection to music. I’ll let you judge for yourself. Mike also provided a link to this video of Crooked Still doing “Come On In My Kitchen” at the Somerville Theatre this fall. Mike was lucky enough to see them there. Tell me if you don’t feel the blues in this performance.

If you liked that, you’ll like this:

Listening to this album is leaving me anything but blue.

The title of this post comes from the lyrics of “Wind and Rain” and the traditional song “Dreadful Wind and Rain.” One sister murders another out of jealousy by pushing her into a river. The body floats away until…

Floated ‘till she came to a miller’s pond
Oh the wind and rain
oh father oh father there swims a swan
Cryin’ oh the dreadful wind and rain

Listen to the song to hear how it ends.

Posted by James at January 1, 2007 9:39 PM
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EXCELLENT. Thanks for the tip.

Posted by: Karen at January 1, 2007 10:31 PM

Glad you like them. Their first CD "Hop High" is nearly as good as "Shaken by a Low Sound". Here's where I first learned about them last July:

NPR's All Songs Considered

Trivia: The lead singer's father Brian O'Donovan hosts a weekend Irish music program on WGBH called A Celtic Sojourn.

Posted by: Mike at January 2, 2007 9:34 AM

Not my style of thing, but I definitely appreciated it. Thanks James (and Mike).

Posted by: Chuck S. at January 3, 2007 9:12 AM

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