A new song out today. from a new project just unveiled.
The song is called 'Golden Streets, Bitter Tears' and is the first offering from a history and music project called 'Bring Your Own Hammer’.
Bring Your Own Hammer is a new project in which historians and composers collaborate to create new and original song cycles based on historical sources.
It is rooted in the history of nineteenth-century Ireland and of the Irish Diaspora and involves songwriters and composers from Ireland and Britain.
‘Golden Streets, Bitter Tears’ features the voice of Brigid Mae Power and is out now via Dimple Discs.
I wrote a few words about how I came to be a part of BYOH.
When Cathal Coughlan first contacted me about contributing to Bring Your Own Hammer, I immediately accepted the invitation. We arranged to meet for a coffee on the seafront near where I live in Dublin.
He had asked me to think of somewhere close to the local train station and I suggested this café by the promenade. The café, incidentally, doubled up as a hairdressers which Cathal found very amusing, making some quip about us getting some highlights done while we were there.
I was the first to arrive for our meeting and I took my coffee from the counter and sat by the window. I recall gazing across at the yellow sand bags that had taken up permanent residence by the sea wall, and contemplating the open sea beyond.
Cathal arrived and eloquently explained the concept behind the project, describing the deep well of material we were invited to draw from, thanks in no small part to his historian friend, Richard.
It was clear from the beginning that this was to be a new approach to songwriting for me. I had been writing songs for decades and had always felt like my inspiration comes from all manner of mysterious places, and seldom had I formally researched anything ahead of putting a lyric to music.
In the months that followed, I found myself divining for magic threads. My notebook filled slowly with my longhand cursive, transcribing from newspaper archives and court sessions, first hand accounts of hardship, digitised manuscripts written in ink, epistolary missives, diaries, eyewitness incident reports, transcripts and essays.
I spent long hours at library desks and kitchen tables, on trains and in departure lounges. Reading and reading. Often I was lead along by instinct or chance. I found real-life stories. Stories of strife and resilience, stories of adversity and struggle, stories of longing and of poverty, stories of survival and failure, stories of misery and sadness, stories of minor triumph, stories of loss and disappointment, stories of the fields, stories of the shoreline, stories of the streets, stories of the workhouse, the prison yard, the courthouse, stories of hunger and yearning, stories of the open seas, stories of the human spirit.
I felt enrapt by these figures of the past and what they lived through. And their names visited me in my sleep.
I am thankful for the seafront rendezvous that day and for the songs that followed. I hope these songs will find a place in the world and will, in time, live a life of their own.
And here are is some historical background about ‘Gold Streets, Bitter Tears’ courtesy of historian Dr Richard Mc Mahon, co-founder of BYOH.
This song is a beautiful and poignant evocation of the idea of the sea journey as a means of escape from the poverty and inequalities of nineteenth-century Ireland and of the promise and perils of migration in a more universal sense. The narrator has not only migrated overseas, but is encouraging others to do the same and leave behind the ‘devil hunger pains’ that characterised his life in the home country. America is ostensibly portrayed as a land of equality and freedom where he can ‘walk with the best of the town’ and he is freed from ‘misery chains’, with an implicit juxtaposition of the liberty and opportunity in America and the repression and restrictions of life in Ireland. The attractive and enticing image of life ‘over the waves’ is, however, superbly undercut by the song’s refrain ‘Golden Streets, Bitter Tears’, suggesting all is not as it seems. This refrain offers a subtle but compelling hint at what we hope will be a key theme of this project; the promise and peril of the migrant sea journey of the nineteenth century and the often bitter consequences for many who sought to leave or, indeed, return. The song is inspired by migrant letters sent back to Ireland which offered an idealised image of life in the United States and the lyrics draw in part from the original letters and in part from the careful imaginings of the composer.
For a discussion of these migrant letters and the source for the title of the song, see Kerby A. Miller and Bruce D. Boling, ‘Golden Streets, Bitter Tears: The Irish Image of America during the Era of Mass Migration’, Journal of American Ethnic History, Fall, 1990 – Winter, 1991, Vol. 10, No. 1/2, The Irish in America (Fall, 1990 – Winter, 1991), pp. 16-35.
17David Harrington, Berniie NiFhurlinge and 15 others
Adrian has commenced work on his tenth studio album. Details will be revealed at afuture date but suffice to say, he is very excited. He will be taking to the stage in September for two London appearances ; one as special guest to Scott Matthews and a favourite venue: Union Chapel and the other at Tower Theatre as part of a special Leonard Cohen tribute night.
Pomes Penyeach - Joyce set to song
Three very special shows on sale now!
Featuring: Adrian Crowley, Matthew Nolan, Anna Mieke, Sean Mac Erlaine and Kevin Murphy
31 May 2022
Paris, France, Centre Culturel Irlandais
01 June 2022
Brussels, Belgium, Bozar
02 June 2022
Berlin, Germany, Zenner
James Joyce set to song
Composed by Adrian Crowley & Matthew Nolan, Pomes Penyeach is a unique and thrilling project comprising the poetry of James Joyce reinterpreted into song. The collection of 13 short poems, first published in 1927 by Shakespeare & Company of Paris, provide the lyrical basis for this invigorating and expansive creation.
The title, Pomes Penyeach, is a typical Joycean play on words; its literal meaning being 'poems for a penny each' as the collection was published for the price of one shilling, or twelve pennies. The thirteenth poem was a bonus ‘tilly’ (tuilleadh in Irish); a custom of Irish tradespeople at the time to offer an extra serving, similar to the ‘baker’s dozen, which offered 13 loaves instead of twelve.
This exciting new project came into being when academic/curator/ composer Matthew Nolan approached singer/writer/composer Adrian Crowley and extended an invitation to collaborate. Nolan first discovered Joyce's collection thirty years ago and ever since had held an ambition to see the elegiac collection set to song. That collaboration has culminated in a breath-taking project of a panoramic quality that not only stands up as a transportive musical journey but as a testament to the timelessness of Joyce's verse.
The project features Adrian Crowley (vocals, piano, acoustic guitar & mellotron), Matthew Nolan (electric guitar, omnichord, & synth. The pair have assembled a stunning ensemble with some of Ireland’s forerunning contemporary players ): Anna Mieke (vocals) who provides a perfect foil to Crowley’s distinct voice, Kevin Murphy (cello) and Sean Mac Erlaine (percussion and electronics).
Pomes Penyeach is supported by The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, The Museum of Literature Ireland and Saint Patrick's Festival.
Adrian Crowley has been nominated for an RTE FOLK AWARD for his song 'Bread And Wine' in the category of best original folk song. The award ceremony will take place at Dublin's Vicar Street on November 16th.
The Watchful Eye Of The Stars
Adrian Crowley - Brand New Album
'The Watchful Eye Of The Stars'
LP / CD / Digital
"A master storyteller...Crowley makes enthralling company" Mojo ****
"Leaving you aching for more..." Uncut
"Quite possibly his best album yet" **** The Irish Times
**** The Scotsman
***** Benzine Magazine
Produced by luminary John Parish (Aldous Harding, PJ Harvey) this sublime collection of ten songs invites us to join Adrian at his storytelling best, regaling us with tales of travel and wonder, by sea, by road, all quietly transfixing, transformative and wholly captivating.
'THE WATCHFUL EYE OF THE STARS
by Adrian Crowley here
The Watchful Eye Of The Stars
Adrian Crowley's ninth album, 'The Watchful Eye Of The Stars' will be released on April 30th via Chemikal Underground & BadaBing Records.
The album was produced by John Parish.
The lead single 'Northbound Stowaway'
featuring Nadine Khouri on backing vocals is now available on all the usual platforms.
'The Watchful Eye Of The Stars' is available for pre-order (Heavy-weight vinyl, CD & DL)
Thanks to The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media for awarding us the MISP grant, (Record Release Stimulus) for
'The Watchful Eye Of The Stars'.
James Joyce set to song
Saint Patrick's Festival March 12 - 17th. 2021
Adrian Crowley along with friend and collaborator Matthew Nolan have composed a new suite of pieces entitled 'Pomes Penyeach' that reimagines the poetry of James Joyce into the form of song. 'Pomes Penyeach' is named after the James Joyce book of 13 poems that was first published by Shakespeare & Co., Paris in 1927 - the lyrical basis for the project. Featuring Lisa Hannigan, Cora Venus Lunny, Seán Mac Erlaine and Kevin Murphy, The performance of Pomes Penyeach was filmed and recorded in the beautiful Georgian house that is Museum of Literature, Ireland (MoLI) and is premiering at the 2021 edition of St Patrick's Festival
streaming from March 12th-17th at www.stpatricksfestival.ie
The Science Of Ghosts
starring Adrian Crowley
The Science Of Ghosts, the experimental doc-drama directed by the great Niall Mc Cann is now available to stream through a new platform hosted by The Irish Film Institute (IFI). You can now rent this curious gem at the IFI@Home platform here.
Director Niall McCann’s playful film blends factual and fanciful elements to reflect upon the character of talented Irish musician Adrian Crowley. While being interviewed by a film crew for his latest album, an interruption causes Adrian to ponder – what would a film about his life be like? Could it ever really reflect who he is?
His imagination takes him – and the audience – on a journey as he becomes a ghost visiting his own life, past and future. What emerges is a humorous and original take on the power of storytelling, generously punctuated by Crowley’s music.
The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari- live score
Robert Wiene’s Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari shook filmgoers worldwide when it premiered in Berlin on February 26th, 1920. It changed the direction of the art form like no other film has since. Now presented in a definitive restoration, the film’s chilling, radically expressionist vision is set to grip viewers again. At a local carnival in a small German town, hypnotist Dr. Caligari presents the somnambulist Cesare, who can purportedly predict the future of curious fairgoers. But at night, the doctor wakes Cesare from his sleep to enact his evil bidding…
Incalculably influential, the film’s nightmarishly jagged sets, sinister atmospheric and psychological emphasis left an immediate impact in its wake (horror, film noir, and gothic cinema would all be shaped directly by it).
This special centenary screening with feature a new score performed live by Adrian Crowley, Sean Mac Erlaine, Matthew Nolan and Barry Adamson (Magazine / Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) with live processing by Neil O’Connor.
The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse - Live film score -
The Lincoln Centre, New York.
October 9th, 2018
Adrian Crowley will be performing at The Lincoln Centre, New York with a collaborative project alongside fellow musician-composers, Matthew Nolan, Sean Mac Elaine, Kevin Murphy and Barry Adamson.
The group will perform their original live score to the 1929 Rex Ingram classic which stars Rudolph Valentino.
This is a special Film Society Event for The New York Film Festival.
The score was commissioned by and premiered at the St. Patrick’s Festival Dublin in March 2018. Supported by Culture Ireland. Special 35mm print courtesy of Martin Scorsese from the M.S. Collection at the George Eastman Museum. Thanks Martin!
For more information on this event and ticket purchase, go here
Dark Eyed Messenger-
new album by Adrian Crowley
Adrian Crowley's eighth album,
Dark Eyed Messenger, will be released on October 27th, 2017
It is available for pre-order here
Formats include gatefold heavyweight vinyl.
‘Dark Eyed Messenger’
This October Dublin’s extraordinary singer, songwriter and storyteller will cast his finest spell yet with the release of Dark Eyed Messenger, a masterful work of unwavering focus and beauty.
LP / CD/ DD: 27th October, 2017
Album number eight and Crowley’s fourth for Chemikal Underground, Dark Eyed Messenger comprises 11 songs that alight on the various branches of the song tree the Irish singer/composer/songwriter has established and nurtured between his debut, A Strange Kind, in 1999 and his last release, the ravishing Some Blue Morning, in 2014.
While crowned as ever with Crowley’s mahoganied baritone, Dark Eyed Messenger is the Dublin-based artist’s first set untouched by the instrument with which he is most associated, guitar. This is just one of many surprising yet bewitching results of the album’s stress-free birth at the hands of American producer and musician Thomas Bartlett, aka Doveman (Sufjan Stevens, Martha Wainwright, The Magnetic Fields).
“Thomas said he had a potentially controversial suggestion,” recalls Crowley. “He asked how I’d feel about having no guitar on the album. I jumped at the idea. The notion of showing up and just singing appealed to me very much.”
Recorded in four days in May 2016 in Bartlett’s New York studio, the record captures not merely Crowley at the apex of his song-writing powers but also the creative lava that can flow when two perfectly aligned musical minds come together. “Thomas’s instinct and my vision seemed to work in synergy,” says Crowley. “It was moving to see him conjure these spectral sounds seemingly out of the air between us.”
As the singer suggests, Bartlett’s contribution to Dark Eyed Messenger is variously unsettling, comforting and effervescent, eliciting a sweeping array of dream-like sounds and deploying dissonance where the listener might least expect it. The result is an immersive record that inhabits a world of dusk, dreams and desire. As with Crowley’s previous releases, an air of literary depth and poetry pervades the set, reflecting its creator’s lyrical flair and elegantly assured writing style.
Evoking fragments of such diverse works as A Walk Across The Rooftops by The Blue Nile and Deserter’s Songs by Mercury Rev, Dark Eyed Messenger sounds like it took ten times as long to make as it did, an illusion that is testament to the strength of the partnership that forged it. The singer outlines how their modus operandi evolved after he first arrived at Bartlett’s studio on West 37th Street after walking from his cousin’s apartment on the Upper East Side.
“Day one set the rhythm for the week. I’d make coffee while Thomas switched things on. I’d name a song and we’d listen to my demo of it. Thomas would play it on the piano or Mellotron and I’d sing. We’d do a run through. He’d hit record. And then another song and another. He’d say, ‘Let’s do a scratch vocal’ so I’d do a take. But soon we realised my scratch vocals were final takes. By day four we had 11 songs recorded.”
While modesty prevents its creator from lauding those songs as the most beguiling in his two-decade career, as a label Chemikal Underground is happily unencumbered by such restrictions and we stand by our judgement. Dark Eyed Messenger finds Adrian Crowley at the very peak of his powers.
The striking cover art for Dark Eyed Messenger comes courtesy of Galway-based visual artist Louise Manifold.
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On Chemikal Underground Records.