The power trio is a tried and tested configuration that’s been delivering some of the most exciting music since the late ‘60s: think Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Grand Funk Railroad, Rush and Motorhead to name but a few. There’s always something about the dynamic of a three piece that makes the music that little bit different; for a start there’s more space for each member of the group to fill; and because there is nowhere to hide, everyone has to be on top of their game. It demands a different skill set of its musicians, as at least one person is going to be filling dual singer/instrument roles; and if that person also happens to be the guitarist who’s playing a lead break, then everyone has to ensure that what’s happening elsewhere has enough substance to carry the song in the absence of a second guitar or keyboards.
Herefordshire’s Crowsaw, then, has chosen a well-established format that demands much of them. Like the blues that underpins so much of their music, it’s easy to understand the basics but difficult to execute well. For a relatively new band (formed in 2012) they pull it off with style and substance. “Smoke & Feathers” is the kind of gutsy, blues rock that the UK is so good at producing. If this band turned up at your local, you’d have the best night of the year. And they’re already bigger than that, pulling in crowds at significantly larger venues.
Influences here are Cream, Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, combined with plenty of their own particular sound. Originally a covers band they soon moved on to their own material, a wise move indeed given the strength of the material here.
From the storming opener ‘Skin and Bones’, to caustic closer ‘JFY’ the album swaggers through ten quality songs, commercial enough to carry several potential singles that wouldn’t be out of place on your favourite rock radio station – ‘Money’, ‘Smoke & Feathers’ and ‘Dog of Nine’ –, while maintaining a musical integrity that showcases some tasty musicianship (check out Rob Lomax’s Satch-like chops on the aforementioned ‘Dog of Nine’). There’s an infectious groove running through the album that will get your head nodding and your foot tapping. Not quite sure what they’re putting in the beer on the borders these days, but it’s clearly good stuff.
If you like your rock bluesy, gritty and with an indefinable groove, then you’ll enjoy Crowsaw. I’m certain we’ll be hearing more from them in future months as this album raises their profile. Just remember where you read about them first!