Roving Crows – Bury Me Naked

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5

Well we’ve had Black Crowes, Counting Crows and Stone the Crows, not to mention the Magic Crows Bluegrass Band, but here we have crows of a roving kind.  If you were wondering what the Worcestershire/Gloucestershire-based quartet might sound like without having actually heard them before, a visual representation of their sound could possibly be found in the three-panel photo on the inner gatefold sleeve of their new album Bury Me Naked.  Here we find, to the far left, Paul O’Neill showing an acoustic guitar precisely who’s boss, whilst to his left we find Caitlin Barrett in classic folk rock poise, giving her fiddle a good ‘seeing to’ to.  Then there’s Loz Shaw, almost bent double over his electric bass in a moment of ecstasy or pain (or both), whilst the imposing figure of Tim Downes-Hall pounds the bongos with a fervour befitting the energetic creed of the band.  Then again, you might well be already familiar with the band’s sound from their two previously released full-length albums, both of which in essence paved the way for this, their first release in four years.  Opening with the title song, based on the essential Native American text Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown’s epic study of a people so blatantly and openly wronged, Bury Me Naked is a folk rock statement with a conscience; the liner notes go on to state the band’s environmental ethos, which is reflected in some of the music included here.  Although the rock aspect is explored throughout, the band are unafraid to venture into world rhythms, such as the reggae-inflected “Refugee”, a powerful message set to a lilting groove reminiscent of Men at Work’s infectious “Down Under” and “Passing on the Love”, a true life story about friends on the road.  Afro rhythms also form the basis of the opening of “Revolution is Now”, a powerful statement of intent.  Fiddle player Caitlin Barrett comes to the fore vocally on her own Riverside, as well as revisiting Jimmy MacCarthy’s “Ride On”, which closes the album, recalling Mary Coughlan’s version from the 1980s, but for the main part its O’Neill leading the band with one or two vibrant instrumentals thrown into the mix.