Steve Crawford and Spider Mackenzie – Celticana

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

There’s something reminiscent of early Jackson Browne in Steve Crawford’s songwriting style and delivery, which isn’t a bad thing.  On the contrary, many contemporary singer songwriters would sell their soul at the crossroads to be mentioned in the same sentence.  Celticana is a fitting title for this album, which attempts to bridge the Atlantic from Aberdeen to Austin, by way of his Crawford’s current home in Germany.  A solid wordsmith, Crawford delivers each song with confidence and warmth, notably “After the Ceilidh”, “Some Peace to My Worried Mind”, “Glen Deskry” and the Warren Zevon-like “Get Shit Done” among them.

The songs are enhanced with Spider Mackenzie’s informed harmonica playing, adding atmosphere and filling spaces where spaces need filling.  A formidable player who knows when to hold back and when to dive deep into a solo, Mackenzie takes the spotlight on a couple of instrumentals, “Socks No Shoes”, which demonstrate Mackenzie’s Sonny Terry-like dexterity, flair and ear for a good tune and “Bernera Blues”, which shows remarkable restraint.  Mackenzie’s contribution is further emphasised in the lyric booklet, detailing precisely which gob organ is used for each song for some inexplicable reason.  

Choice Track: Glen Deskry (NSV 505)