REVIEW: The Horrible Crowes – “Elsie”

The Horrible Crowes / Elsie / SideOneDummy

Gaslight Anthem frontman Brian Fallon and pal Ian Perkins came clean about a new collaboration called The Horrible Crowes at the beginning of the year. Savvy fans heard a couple of the melodic tunes created by the Crowes in fits and starts throughout the summer, and now the whole kit and caboodle has been released across the world in the form of the debut album Elsie. The influence on Fallon of cult poetic songwriters who made their dimes with their words more than with their voices – guys like Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen – can be readily heard across most of the project’s debut album. Oscar nominee – and sometime voice of Satan himself – Waits seems to have been the inspiration for tracks such as “Ladykiller” and “Mary Ann”, where Fallon’s throaty passion is matched by some ballsy blues guitars.

Similarly, “I Believe Jesus Brought us Together” is a disarmingly intimate track, poetic and delivered in a clear heartfelt tone reminiscent of Cohen. But things get a little weird in “Cherry Blossoms” when, in the middle of a practically Samuel Beamian ballad, his voice unexpectedly drops into that gravelly register. It’s not as if that voice doesn’t work in ballads, it’s just that in the case of “Cherry Blossoms” it doesn’t feel very consistent or appropriate. Instrumentally, pronounced bass notes, crisp drums and atmospheric guitars and piano are the rule for The Horrible Crowes on Elsie, but a surprising highlight occurs on “Crush” when an intro of swooning math rock licks greets listeners. But, even in several cases where songs seem to run a little long, Fallon’s voice is generally enough to keep listeners’ attentions all on its own.

Download: “Go Tell Everybody”, “I Witnessed A Crime”

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