The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music Reviews -

Long Dis­tance Swim­mer Tin An­gel ★★★★ It’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for. Gal­way’s Adrian Crowley has al­ways flown lower be­neath the radar than his singing-song­writ­ing peers. Some have fol­lowed the trail that be­gan with Crowley’s 1999 de­but album (A Strange Kind), but it’s fair to say that his rise has been largely un­trou­bled by ex­pec­ta­tions, and most ob­servers have pre­ferred to keep step with lesser tal­ents. Com­pli­ments have come his way from the likes of Ryan Adams, Steve Al­bini, James York­ston and the Fence col­lec­tive, but Crowley has just qui­etly got on with his craft.

Album No 4 may be the point at which Crowley stops be­ing a best kept se­cret. Like A North­ern Coun­try, his pre­vi­ous re­lease, Long Dis­tance Swim­mer was recorded dur­ing a spell hous­esit­ting for his sis­ter. He pushed the furniture back to the walls, en­sured the house’s one other res­i­dent (a dal­ma­tion called Rosy) was happy, and in­vited a bunch of mu­si­cal ac­com­plices to come round to help.

The shivers be­gin to run up and down from the mo­ment Crowley starts singing Bless Our Tiny Hearts, and you get the sense that you’re in the pres­ence of one of the year’s most be­guil­ing col­lec­tions of songs. His com­mand of his craft is mas­ter­ful, as­sured and alive to ev­ery pos­si­bil­ity from the first strum. His voice – dole­ful, some­times hurt and al­ways know­ing – per­fectly mir­rors the swing and mo­men­tum of songs such as Tem­po­rary Res­i­dence and Har­mony Row, each one lyri­cally sculpted and shaped to per­fec­tion.

There are no throw­away lines in Crowley’s canon. He strikes you as a writer who knows that the power of words is not some­thing to be used lightly. Lis­ten, for in­stance, how he builds, con­tains and con­trols the droll drama on Walk on Part, as the band swell to flat­ter rather than fill the space be­tween the words. Long Dis­tance Swim­mer el­e­vates Crowley to a com­pletely dif­fer­ent class. www.mys­pace. com/adrian crowley

JIM CAR­ROLL Down­load tracks: Bless Our Tiny Hearts, Har­mony Row, Walk on Part

Adrian Crowley: no longer Gal­way’s best-kept se­cret

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