The music of Adrian Crowley isn't something that sticks out for doing anyting weird or different. Rather, this is music that takes familiar sounds and situations and molds them into music that is comfortable and a bit world weary. A Northern Country is the third album in three years from Adrian Crowley and like his previous effort finds him taking small steps to add to his sound all the time. Previously limiting himself to vocals, guitar, cello, and occasional drums, this disc mixes up the instrumentation much more and feels a lot more fresh because of it.
That's not to say that the album is still lush, although once again it's the little things that make the difference. "One Hundred Words For Snow" opens the disc and while the title is a wordplay on the old eskimo legend, the track moves with an almost crushing weight of melancholy. "Harmonium Song" is one of the couple tracks on the release recorded to cassette (the other is "Piano Song"), and the track takes an otherworldly sort of feel that doesn't feel out-of-place on the album.
In other places, the album lightens up considerably. "Morning Frost" mixes pretty guitar melodies with the subtle chimes of what sounds like a broken toy piano while "Photographing Lightning Strikes" lopes along nicely but runs a bit long at almost 7 minutes. The warm croon of Crowley is at its best when relaying more somber tracks like the quiet and pretty "Brake Lines." The final track of "Birthday" goes in another direction almost completely, mixing spoken-word samples in alongside a slow-moving drone that closes out the album perfectly. Some of his more stripped-down and even 'experimental' pieces (like the aforementioned piano and harmonium tracks), are some of the standouts on the release and make me wonder what he could do if he simply set out to create a drone/ambient record. As it stands, A Northern Country is a nice little release that I'm sure will sound better when the weather gets a little colder.