Marry Waterson & Adrian Crowley – Cuckoo Storm
Marry Waterson – an essential part of the fabric of folk history in England – and Adrian Crowley– one of Ireland’s most acclaimed talents – collaborate for the first time on ‘Cuckoo Storm,’ a distinctive and powerfully lyrical album of 11 original songs produced with Jim Barr (Portishead).
The ‘Cuckoo Storm’ might never have been, were it not for a social media post Crowley wrote on a wintery late-night walk in a quiet neighbourhood of Dublin during lockdown. Struck by Waterson’s previous album ‘Death Had Quicker Wings Than Love’ (co-written with David A Jaycock), he wanted to mark the moment and pressed ‘send’ into the ether with no way of knowing what would follow. Drawn to his voice and seeing a kindred spirit in his poetic lyrics, Waterson was touched by his message and responded by asking if he would be interested in working together. His answer was a resounding ‘yes.’
Initially, they began by building a collection of songs and from that it became clear an album was in the offing and the seeds of ‘Cuckoo Storm’ were sewn. Waterson and Crowley found their voices melded easily to form something rich and intimate. Their creative roles exchanged fluidly, whether lyric and or melody-writer, enjoying the excitement of another colouring in their work: a delightful, dopamine rush, which pushed each artist on to create something that couldn’t exist outside that particular partnership.
‘Cuckoo Storm’ opens with ‘Undear Sphere’ a song written by Waterson but which evolved in the studio when she, Crowley and Jim Barr (on double bass) played it for the first time. It was composed using the ‘blackout’ technique, as was ‘Distant Music’, written by Waterson when skimming the pages of a church jumble sale book (divine inspiration indeed!). Marry blacked out parts of the original text until only certain words or phrases remained, connecting motivational words to create an entirely new work. Crowley had been working independently on a melody that just happened to fit her creation: a happy accident.
Crowley’s deliciously dark ‘Heavy Wings’ was inspired by the story of ‘L’Inconnue de la Seine’ (The unknown woman of the River Seine) – a beautiful woman whose body was pulled from the River Seine in the late 1880s and whose face was cast into a death mask – and features the plaintive sound of trumpet and saxophone evoking the soundtrack to Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (Lift to the Scaffold) by Miles Davis. ‘One Foot of Silver, One Foot of Gold’ was a line written by Waterson’s mother to which Marry set her melody. She explains, “My mum Lal (Waterson) wrote the lyrics, ‘One foot of silver one foot of gold’ as a tribute to the French poet Arthur Rimbaud. Somehow these magnificent words never made it into song, so I picked up where she left off and wrote a melody. As I sang, a little garden bird came to the windowsill as if listening. I hoped it was a happy augury as a lump came to my throat and I had to stop mid recording to cope with the idea it might be her returning to say ‘what are you doing to my song, you bugger?’”.
‘Lucky Duck for Grown-ups’ came from favoured lyrics Waterson had jotted in notebooks on various train journeys to recording sessions and gigs, to which Crowley now purrs his way through in the final version. ‘Kicking Up The Dust’,a song about hitchhiking, harks back to Crowley’s teenage years growing up in rural west of Ireland. As he reveals, “As a teenager this was how I got around…and sometimes I’d even go across the country this way. Long periods of reflection went hand in hand with these solo journeys…the humming really makes me smile”.
‘Cuckoo Storm’ is a deeply compelling album. A serendipitous collaboration that has resulted in a collection of 11 beautifully crafted songs, sung by two voices that are a powerful match. Waterson’s brilliantly distinctive voice is underpinned by Crowley’s rich baritone and together it’s an intoxicating mix.
Joining Marry Waterson (vocals) and Adrian Crowley (vocals, piano, electric guitar, mellotron, harmonium, music box clarinet, marxophone, synth) on Cuckoo Storm are Jim Barr (Portishead) bass, lap-steel guitar;Pete Judge (Get The Blessing) trumpet, flugelhorn; Jake McMurchie (Get The Blessing) sax; James Gow, cello; Seán Mac Erlaine bass clarinet; Lisa Dowdall viola d’amore and Rob Pemberton on drums.
- Undear Sphere
- The Leviathan
- Watching The Starlings
- Kicking Up The Dust
- Lovers In The Waves
- Heavy Wings
- Lucky Duck For Grown Ups
- One Foot Of Silver, One Foot Of Gold
- Distant Music
- Cuckoo Storm
- The Trembling Cup