Great folk albums don’t come along very often, but Crooked Weather have done a pretty good job of throwing a contender into the ring with their new record, Long Garden. As soon as the first acoustic finger picked riffs start to ring out on the opening track you know that you’re about to listen to a thing of beauty, but it turns out to be a whole lot more intricately crafted than you first think before it comes to close. Check out the album promo video below to take a listen to a taster of what the album is made of.
There’s the occasional sound of the greats of the past that swirl around in little snippets and sections of the tracks on the album with Jim Morrison floating up periodically in the vocals, hitched up next to faint bursts of Grace Slick, all wrapped up in the sound of The Eagles, Dire Straits, Crosby, Stills and Nash and Incredible String Band. However, like Chris Helme’s The Rookery, Long Garden is a contemporary folk album that doesn’t feel like it’s too steeped in history, swirling everything together with elements of rhythm and blues, soul, bluegrass, country, psych, world beats, rock and roll and faint traces of alt-pop.
The album opens out with title track, Long Garden, which on the face of things is a traditional roving acoustic guitar folk track with a lilting vocal tone that boosts out for the chorus with harmonies that sound like they could have come straight out of the deep south circa 1929. The female vocals on the second song on the record, Red Lead Rose, channel the ringing attention grabbing qualities of Grace Slick and Cate Le Bon, as they manage to sound low and high all at the same time, capturing a little of your soul instantly.
Control Your Blues is a slowly hushed country, blues and world beats fusion track that’s infinitely listenable. It makes for a good contrast leading into the growl and pace of # 10. Blood On Tracks has got a brilliantly thundering blues rock electric guitar riff that’s been fuzzed up and turbo distorted to make an epic noise to act as the emphatic punctuation to the country fueled song.
Long Garden album cover:
There’s more blurred musical lines in Chipotle as 1960s rhythm and blues meets world beats and country folk with hushed vocals and the addition of some very cool harmonica melodies. It leads into the roaming finger picked rhythms and harmonica excellence on The Way Things Go and it’s at this stage that you get a good sense that Long Garden has no let up on the incoming tide as it just keeps rolling on.
Fools Hope is a little surreal, like a bizarre dream in a sleepy New Mexico town, with talk of “chasing fools gold” and a smart jazz-like acoustic guitar riff solo interlude at the heart of the slow burn track. Things get a little more direct on Dream My Life Away, which has a crashing cymbal backdrop and an up tempo acoustic melody.
The final track on the album is the cannily entitled When Will I See You Again and it leaves you with a need to play it all again and contemplate hitting the loop button. It’s made up of complex acoustic finger picking, mystical bongo beat action and poetic psychedelic lyrics that mixes references to hedgerows, foreign lands and a lack of talent for certainty.
There’s a lot to take in with Crooked Weather’s Long Garden and you can’t help but be impressed by the sheer scale of the task and the exceptional delivery that they’ve managed to pull off. The interplay of male and female vocals in the earlier songs on the album will have you returning to it for years to come. While it has a lot of variety mixed up in the ten tracks from the East-Yorkshire band, it’s also got a cohesive unity that brings it all together to form a solid gem of a record.
Crooked Weather, Long Garden album review: 4.4/5