Adrian Crowley at ABC Glasgow
|Born||1968 (age 44–45)|
|Genres||Folk, indie rock|
|Instruments||Voice, electric guitar, marxophone, mellotron, Rhodes piano, Shruti box, piano, acoustic guitar, bells|
|Labels||Chemikal Underground, Domino Publishing|
|Associated acts||Fence Records, Halfset Alasdair Roberts, James Yorkston,|
Beginning his career at the age of 25, Crowley has released five albums, with his debut A Strange Kind arriving in 1999. He followed this with When You Are Here You Are Family (2002), A Northern Country (2004), Long Distance Swimmer (2007) and Season of the Sparks (2009). He has performed on TV shows such as Other Voices and Ceol Ar An Imeall and is also curator of the Homelights Festival in Dublin.
In a 2005 Rolling Stone interview, Ryan Adams cited Crowley when asked "Who's the best songwriter that no one's heard of". The Irish Times placed this artist at number eight in a list of "The 50 Best Irish Acts Right Now" published in April 2009.
Crowley has won the Choice Music Prize for Irish Album of the Year on one occasion for Season of the Sparks and been nominated on another occasion for Long Distance Swimmer. After winning the award for Irish Album of the Year 2009 he was among the first acts to be announced for Electric Picnic 2010.
Crowley is from a multicultural background. He was born in Sliema in Malta but reared in Galway. Crowley's parents met in Africa but moved to Crowley's grandmother's home in Malta due to political turmoil in Sierra Leone. His mother rescued a drowning swimmer from the Mediterranean Sea when she was pregnant with him. After his birth they departed Malta for Cameroon. Crowley has been based in Dublin since the 1990s but has also spent a year living in France. He is married with two children.
Crowley was a late developer as a musician, having originally spent time on other pursuits, such as studying architecture, painting and photography. Alongside this he wrote songs but did not perform his first show until the age of 25, some days after finding material he had written in the early 1990s in his attic. He departed from a career in photography around 2004 to enter the music profession on a full-time basis.
Crowley released his debut album A Strange Kind independently in 1999. The song "Capricorn" was played regularly on No Disco that year. When You Are Here You Are Family followed in 2002, being recorded at the Electrical Audio studios of one of his heroes, Steve Albini, in Chicago. This successful spell in the United States inspired him to begin communicating with American record labels.
He joined the label Ba Da Bing who were keen to produce his next two albums. A Northern Country was due for release in on 2 July 2004, though was delayed before appearing on a smaller label with little publicity. Crowley later referred to A Northern Country as "the least ceremonious album of them all".
Long Distance Swimmer was released as soon as it was recorded as, according to Crowley, he became "fed up waiting". It was recorded with engineer Stephen Shannon. The record received positive reviews and was nominated for the Choice Music Prize. The NME said it was "a lo-furnished, snug, auburn-tinged folk album which calls to mind Bill Callahan, Johnny Cash, and Edwyn Collins". The Irish Independent's John Meagher named it his favourite album of 2007 and sixteenth best Irish album of the decade, while his colleague Eamon Sweeney suggested Crowley's record was one of the few Irish albums preventing that year from being "an absolute stinker". It was around this time that Crowley began working with The Fence Collective and members of Halfset. He featured on the 12 March 2008 edition of the sixth series of Other Voices. Also that month, he performed a residency at Whelan's.
Season of the Sparks was released on 24 April 2009 and featured an expanded palette of instruments including marxophone, shruti box, upright harmonium, viola de gamba, baroque viola. It was generally well received by critics in both and Ireland and the UK, and, so pleased was the reviewer with the French magazine Les Inrockuptibles that he wrote a letter of thanks to Crowley. Crowley featured on TG4 music series Ceol Ar An Imeall and returned to perform on an episode of the eighth series of Other Voices, both broadcast in 2010. He was also one of the first acts to be announced for Electric Picnic 2010.
Crowley collaborated with Estel on "Electric Eels", a track from the 2003 album A Guide in Time of Great Danger. He performed at the Elliott Smith Memorial Tribute Show in Dublin on 19 January 2004. He has performed with James Yorkston on several occasions. The pair have recorded an eight track mini-album as a tribute to Daniel Johnston. Crowley also curates the Homelights Festival in Dublin. He is also interested in film and has composed a number of scores. He is responsible for scoring the Irish feature film, 'Where The Sea Used To Be' directed by Paul Farren.
Crowley is renowned for his serious songwriting style, a reputation which has not fazed him. He has spoken about his future hopes to entertain with his music, once saying: "I've always been cast as a very sombre performer, but I don't really care. There's very little you can do after you've been stamped as earnest or serious early on in your career".
Crowley's style has been compared to that of Badly Drawn Boy, Bill Callahan, Nick Drake and Tim Buckley, while Irish Independent reviewer Eamon Sweeney has said the singer is "a master of understatement". The vocals of Noah and the Whale's Charlie Fink are said to be reminiscent of Crowley's. As well as singing Crowley plays the electric guitar and the Rhodes piano; he never plays the acoustic guitar. He experiences music while he sleeps:
|“||Since I started doing music full time, I actually hear it in my sleep and sometimes wake up and wonder who left the stereo on — and it's really in my head. It's unbelievable. I think it's a kind of natural aural hallucination. I'll hear it as I'm waking — it might wake me. I'll be dreaming music but then it might take me out of my dream. Once I'm wide awake it's gone.||”|
Adrian Crowley has released six albums.
- A Strange Kind (1999)
- When You Are Here You Are Family (2002)
- A Northern Country (2004)
- Long Distance Swimmer (2007)
- Season of the Sparks (2009)
- I See Three Birds Flying (2012)
The following have performed with Crowley.
- Jeff Martin — Guitar
- Steven Shannon — Bass guitar
- Cillian Mc Donnell — Drums
- Kevin Murphy — Cello
- Marja Tuhkanen Gaynor — Viola, violin, viola de gamba, viol
- Adem Ilhan — Harmonium, vocals, percussion
- Kate Ellis — Cello
- Thomas Haugh — Drums, zither
- Andrew Bushe — Drums
- Sarah Fox — Bass guitar, double bass, vocals
- Emma Smith — Violin, vocals
- Vince Sipprell — Viola
- Cameron Miller — Bass guitar, double bass, vocals
- Sarah Jones — Drums
- Christopher Mayo — Bass guitar
- James Yorkston — Concertina, guitar, vocals
- Alex Neilson — Drums
- Otto Hauser — Drums
- Jesse Sparhawk — Bass guitar
- Viking Moses
The Irish Times placed Crowley at number eight in a list of "The 50 Best Irish Acts Right Now" published in April 2009, noting his "majestic songs, rich voice and subtle blend of atmospherics and master-level wordplay".
Choice Music Prize
Season of the Sparks won the Choice Music Prize for Irish Album of the Year 2009. Crowley received a prize of €10,000 cheque. He described himself as "totally flabbergasted", adding "I didn't really think it was the sort of record that was going to win awards". Crowley promised to use the money to fund his music. He was one of eight nominees who performed at the awards ceremony. He is a friend of fellow nominee Valerie Francis.
|2008||Long Distance Swimmer||Irish Album of the Year 2007||Nominated|
|2010||Season of the Sparks||Irish Album of the Year 2009||Won|
- Brian Boyd (6 March 2010). "Season in the sun". The Irish Times. Retrieved 7 March 2010. "AFTER 35 YEARS reviewing albums for the prestigious French music magazine, Les Inrockuptibles, journalist Richard Robert picked up the last album he would ever write about before his retirement. Robert, it would be safe to say, has heard it all – a few times over. He pressed the play button on Adrian Crowley’s Season of the Sparks and fell into a deep swoon. “Dazzling in its writing and its execution”; “a beauty that enchants the lives of us music-lovers”; “a miracle of equilibrium and elegance”; and “an art that is consummate” were among the phrases Robert used in his review. So moved was Robert by Crowley’s work that he sought out his address in Dublin and sent him a letter telling him how glad he was that the last album he ever reviewed was Crowley’s one."
- "Westport Arts Festival". Mayo Advertiser. 11 September 2009. Retrieved 4 March 2010. "Contemporary musician, Adrian Crowley's songs are immersed in folk tradition and he is due to play with a four-piece band on Saturday 10 October in the Holy Trinity Church."
- Jim Carroll (11 April 2009). "Crowley crafts the finished article". The Irish Times. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
- Kevin McGuire (23 April 2009). "Adrian Crowley’s musical season sparks into life with new album". Galway Advertiser. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
- "REVIEW: James Yorkston / Adrian Crowley". The Irish Times. 24 January 2009. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
- Malcolm Jack (3 October 2009). "Gig review: Music Like A Vitamin". The Scotsman. Retrieved 4 March 2010. "Fife singer-songwriter James Yorkston and Dubliner Adrian Crowley opened with a special performance of the songs of American lo-fi legend Daniel Johnston, an artist whose battle with mental health demons has been well documented. They gave his tunes delicate and sparse arrangements, even singing some a cappella."
- Nick Kelly (30 August 2009). "The folk singer who will play in your living room". Irish Independent. Retrieved 4 March 2010. "Thank goodness for James Yorkston. [...] Indeed, the box set of the new album comes with a bonus CD featuring other artists -- including our own Cathal Coughlan and Adrian Crowley -- covering his songs, as well as a CD of remixes by the likes of Four Tet and King Creosote."
- "Adrian Crowley – Season of the Sparks". Clash. 2 November 2009. Retrieved 7 March 2010. "On his fifth album, this Irish folk singer, who remains relatively unknown outside Ireland (where The Irish Times recently placed him in their top ten list of Irish musicians), celebrates the power and tranquility of nature with a collection of slow moving, hazy, yet oddly enchanting tales about the inner peace of the natural world."
- "Waking Life". Hot Press. 13 December 2004. Retrieved 4 March 2010. "Northern Country is the name of his album but if the truth be known, Adrian Crowley crawled from the south. He was born in Sliema, a northwestern seaside suburb of Valletta, at the tail end of the ’60s, weeks after his eight-months pregnant mother splashed into the Maltese Mediterranean and hauled out a drowning swimmer. [...] Crowley had an eclectic upbringing. “My parents met in Southern Africa,” he says. “The reason I was born in Malta was they had been living in Sierra Leone and there was an uprising there and everyone had to leave. They ran to my grandmother’s house. Then after I was born, we moved back to Cameroon for a few years.”"
- Patrick Freyne (18 January 2009). "Swim when you're winning". Hot Press. Retrieved 4 March 2010. "Adrian Crowley has been one to watch for some time. Older fogies (like myself) will remember his song ‘Capricorn’ as a regular on Uaneen Fitzsimons era No Disco in 1999."
- "Inside Track: The west awakes". Hot Press. 1 July 2004. Retrieved 4 March 2010. "As the City of Tribes gears up for the cultural banquet known as the Galway Arts Festival, one of its dearest sons, Adrian Crowley, prepares to delight us with the sonic feast that is his third album, A Northern Country. Due for a 2 July release, the CD was recorded by Thomas Haugh (aka Hulk) and was co-produced by Adrian and Thomas."
- John Meagher (18 January 2008). "Loaded: Awards time again". Irish Independent. Retrieved 4 March 2010. "My favourite Irish album of 2007, Adrian Crowley's Long Distance Swimmer, and an excellent debut, The Flaw's Achieving Vagueness, are among the more fancied nominees."
- John Meagher (11 December 2009). "Loaded: 11/12/2009". Irish Independent. Retrieved 21 April 2010.
- Eamon Sweeney (11 January 2008). "Bright lights: The Irish music scene in 2008". Irish Independent. Retrieved 4 March 2010. "It must be said that 2007 was not a particularly memorable or inspiring year for Irish music. Indeed, if it wasn't for albums from Cathy Davey, Roisin Murphy and Adrian Crowley towards year's end, it could have gone down as an absolute stinker."
- "Other Voices TV line-up announced". RTÉ. 24 January 2008. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
- Shilpa Ganatra (1 February 2008). "The Big Story: Other Voices is back". Irish Independent. Retrieved 4 March 2010. "As expected, given Other Voices' fabulous disregard of genre, among the acts playing this year is Dave Geraghty, Adrian Crowley -- both of whom have been nominated for the Choice Music Prize -- Mick Flannery, Jenny Lindfors, Halfset andalt-electro Dubliners Dry County, who do a Tardis-esque job in squeezing all their equipment onto the stage of a tiny nearby pub."
- "Adrian Crowley announces Dublin residency". Hot Press. 3 March 2008. Archived from the original on 9 March 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
- Eamon Sweeney (14 March 2008). "Singer's gentle magic weaves its cosy spell". Irish Independent. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
- John Meagher (7 March 2008). "Pick of the Week: 07/03/2008". Irish Independent. Retrieved 4 March 2010. "TIPPED BY many – this writer included – to win the Choice Music Prize last week, the Galwegian was narrowly beaten by surprise winners Super Extra Bonus Party. Note to self – never bet on the likely winner of this event again. Anyway, Crowley has no doubt picked himself up, dusted himself down and is getting on with things. [...] Crowley’s singing style has been compared to Nick Drake and Tim Buckley; his musical style to Badly Drawn Boy. And if, after the gig, you’re still looking for another Adrian Crowley fix, he is featured on RTE 2’s Other Voices that night at 11.30pm."
- "Adrian Crowley – Interview with Adrian Crowley". Totally Dublin. 29 April 2009. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- "Adrian Crowley – Season of the Sparks". Hot Press. 22 April 2009. Archived from the original on 9 March 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
- Harry Guerin (11 May 2009). "Adrian Crowley - Season of the Sparks". RTÉ. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
- Lauren Murphy. "Adrian Crowley - Season of the Sparks". The Irish Times. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
- Dan Cairns (8 November 2009). "Adrian Crowley - Season of the Sparks". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
- Niall Crumlish (1 May 2009). "Adrian Crowley – Season of the Sparks". State. Retrieved 7 March 2010. "Early this month, the oracles at the Irish Times listed their “50 best music acts right now”, so that we would all know who to like, at least until their next list. And in amidst the nostalgic wishful thinking (Ash) and premature overpraising (Villagers), there were a few genuine results: notably, Adrian Crowley carded a top ten finish, just behind his arch-nemesis Róisín Murphy."
- "Una Mulally Fronts New TG4 Series". Hot Press. 18 December 2009. Archived from the original on 25 January 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2010. "Adrian Crowley, Heathers, Delorentos, Channel One and Bitches With Wolves are named among the acts who will feature."
- Tony Clayton-Lea (11 December 2009). "Other Voices". The Irish Times. Retrieved 4 March 2010. "The event concluded on Wednesday night with a surge of concentrated excellence from Adrian Crowley, beautifully crafted lo-fi pop from The XX, surprisingly supple, engaging acoustic hip-hop from Speech Debelle, and – winning this writer's award for best gig of the year – tear-shedding, blissed-out retro-pop from Richard Hawley. Other Voices 8 will be broadcast on RTÉ television early next year"
- Ronan McGreevy (25 March 2010). "Electric Picnic Picks: Festival Line-up Announced". The Irish Times. Retrieved 26 March 2010. "Yesterday’s line-up announcement was dominated by reforming acts and Electric Picnickers will hope Public Image Limited (PiL), fronted by John Lydon, will do better than the Sex Pistols’ shambolic headline act at the festival in 2008. [...] Choice music prize winner Adrian Crowley, rockabilly singer Imelda May and Villagers make up some of the home contingent along with the Frames, Paul Brady and Afro-Celt Soundsystem."
- Sinéad Gleeson (9 June 2003). "Estel - A Guide in Time of Great Danger". RTÉ. Retrieved 4 March 2010. "The sombre, pensive tones of Adrian Crowley on 'Electric Eels' is an unexpected collaboration but it works well."
- "Irish bands for Elliott Smith tribute". RTÉ. 5 January 2004. Retrieved 4 March 2010. "Turn, The Walls and Adrian Crowley are among the Irish artists who will play at the Elliott Smith Memorial Tribute Show in The Village, Dublin on Monday 19 January."
- Sinéad Gleeson (28 November 2009). "Deja vu after 35 years of silence". The Irish Times. Retrieved 4 March 2010. "Dublin-based singer Adrian Crowley was entranced on his first listen. [...] Crowley is curator of the Homelights Festival, which will host Bunyan's first Irish gig this weekend in Dublin."
- John Meagher (4 September 2009). "Album Reviews 04/09/09". The Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 4 March 2010. "Once again, Charlie Fink's deadpan vocals recall those of Galway's Adrian Crowley, as his soothing, conversational singing entices the attentive listener into an absorbing collection of songs."
- "The next 50 bands". The Irish Times. 10 April 2009. Archived from the original on 12 April 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
- Jim Carroll, Tony Clayton-Lea, Sinéad Gleeson, Lauren Murphy (3 April 2009). "The 50 best Irish music acts right now". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 12 April 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2010. "Later this month, Adrian Crowley will release his fifth album, Season of the Sparks . Unlike his previous albums, there’s a lot of expectation about Crowley’s new release. This is due to the success of 2007’s Long Distance Swimmer, an album which saw the Galway-born, Dublin-based singer-songwriter win over a new audience with his majestic songs, rich voice and subtle blend of atmospherics and master-level wordplay. He capitalised on the last release through tours with Silver Jews, James Yorkston and Vetiver, so it will be interesting to note just how well the new album will be received."
- Austin Scaggs (8 September 2005). "Q&A: Ryan Adams". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 4 March 2010. "There's Richard Hawley -- from Sheffield, England, I think. And an Irish fellow named Adrian Crowley."
- Shelley Marsden (10 January 2007). "The shortlist has been announced for the third Choice Music Prize in Ireland". The Irish World. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
- "Super Extra Bonus Party win Choice Music Prize". Irish Independent. 28 February 2008. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
- "Crowley wins the Choice Music Prize". RTÉ. 4 March 2010. Archived from the original on 13 April 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
- Colin Gleeson (4 March 2010). "Sparky rock singer scoops top album title". Irish Independent. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
- "Adrian Crowley wins the Choice Music Prize!". Hot Press. 3 March 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
- "The Choice Prize: A night of sparks". Hot Press. 4 March 2010. Archived from the original on 9 April 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
- Jeananne Craig (4 March 2010). "Crowley wins €10k Choice music award". Evening Herald. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
- Brian Finnegan (4 February 2010). "Valerie Francis: Slow burner". Evening Herald. Archived from the original on 14 February 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2010. "Francis is also thrilled about being shortlisted for the Choice award, but her enthusiasm bubbles over for her good friend and fellow nominee Adrian Crowley (The Season of the Sparks). "When the list was announced I was jumping up and down because I heard his name. I was so excited, I didn't realise I had been shortlisted myself. We were hoping both of us would be shortlisted because it wouldn't have felt right if one of us was left out. The hard work has paid off.""