The Low Anthem’s second album What The Crow Brings is a lovely and understated piece of work. At the time of the recording, The Low Anthem were just Ben Miller and Jeffrey Prystowsky. Guest vocalist and clarinet player Jocie Adams had officially transformed the masculine duo into a co-ed trio by the time I saw them perform at Mountain Stage. The new incarnation of the band has prettier harmony, but this older album holds a more arresting intelligence and breathtaking beauty.
The grasses are green here
The winters are mild
Hunger is passing
It’s just a sensation
And over the world am I
“The Ballad of The Broken Bones” inhales and exhales gentle resignation before blossoming with enchanting harmony and instrumentation. “Yellowed By The Sun” turns the guitars up with a splash of harmonica and the stunning “This God Damn House” is a haunting heartbreaker. These retro folk-rock songs are perfect for fans of classic Bob Dylan or the softer side of Felice Brothers.
“Bless Your Tombstone Heart”, “A Weary Horse Can Hide The Pain” and the delicate mandolin of “Sawdust Saloon” slide into a somber, captivating hush. Then a cover of the inspirational “Keep On The Sunny Side” lends some light. The tune was made famous by The Carter Family and is probably best known to younger generations as performed by The Whites on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack.
Future band member Jocie Adams lent her honeyed harmony and clarinet to the finale “Coal Mountain Lullaby”, a sweet foreshadow of things to come from this brilliant band. The mesmeric, authentic sound of What The Crow Brings casts the kind of spell I usually only experience at live performances.
The Low Anthem – The Ballad of the Broken Bones (mp3 removed) *
*mp3 posted with permission of the band’s manager