Don't worry, Patrick Crowson doesn't look one bit like the muddy creature on the cover of his self-titled CD! He is a handsome young man who explains: "You know, the cover came out of an accident. A friend of mine and I were doing construction down in Waco one Summer. We were bored of the heat and decided to make a claymation western. We spent some time creating the clay cowboys - borrowed a Super 8 camera with stop-motion - set up the light and started to film. Unfortunately the lights were too hot and the clay cowboy started to melt and that was pretty much the beginning and end of the western. I always liked the one shot we got. My friend always called it the "meltin' cowboy". He'd say: "Just like you and me in Waco, man."
Patrick was born in Alton, Illinois. How did he get involved in music? "As far as learning, my older brother Mark and my good friend Paul Bodig taught me more about music than anybody else - along with the first two Kristofferson records and some others. My first band was with my brother, a guy from Austin who just had a kid and a friend from Missouri. We were the Oblate Brothers. We played in a bunch of different Ice Houses in Houston. Played a couple of shows in Austin and a couple in Shreveport and then we just kinda burned out. We were moving pretty fast at the time but we had some fun. I took off for a while and ended up forming a band called Cockfighter. I ran into a guitarplayer whose heroes were The Minute Men. We made a couple records, made a lot of noise and then I was called back home for a while." Paul Bodig -the good friend- also wrote the biography, not your regular bio but a well-written novelette, that begins with a quote of Townes Van Zandt: "In motels, I've written a lot of songs during the day -- because in a motel room there's not much difference between the day and the night. When the door's closed and the big rubber curtains are shut, it's just like night." Patrick adds: "I don't think I really deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence but Townes Van Zandt is one of my heroes. Then of course Dylan, Kristofferson, Newbury and a bunch of others."
No big surprise, that his lyrics turned out to be impressionistic dark poetry, about people. "The present is always dark," said Patrick Crowson, who wrote the songs for his record at a particularly trying time and comments a year later: "As far as the inspiration and lyrics, it's hard to say. It's not like I'm trying to be coy or mysterious but once they're done I don't really think about them much. I'm glad they're there but why or how I got 'em doesn't really matter much to me." How about the music? Patrick lives now in the Boerum Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. His friends are Josh and Todd Allen from Meanwhiles. Josh produced the CD (together with Patrick) and plays guitars, piano, harmonium, genie organ, keyboards, sanctum & tone educator bells, while brother Todd is the bassist and Patrick himself plays guitar. Josh describes the results as "dark acoustic songs with shadowy arrangements weaving through the narratives."
O.K., let's listen now... Patrick Crowson has a melancholic, sensitive voice and sings slow, often long ballads without refrains, just some repeated words now and then. Influences from his heroes indeed, singer-songwriter music between alt.folk and alt.acoustic rock. The lines are meandering through well-mixed soundscapes of sparse, effectfull arrangements. "You came before / I wished you couldn't stay. So you're not worthy / To leave the sadness you know " and first song "Homesick" ends on "You're the homesick I couldn't kick". "Poison Water" has this ominous electric guitar and the bass in the background. "The day's own troubles / Outweigh the day / Purple and grey", that's "Dogs Walking Around", pretty with Josh Allen's backing vocals and those little bells. "Longhair" goes back to exposing the truth: "Hey what's become / Of wanting something that means something / Of knowing something before you speak / You're walking down / You're part of the crowd / You think you're a mystery." I hear a touch of Steve Wynn there... If those CSI-series weren't so darned fast and commercial, they would use a song like "Little Rose". "Got an impression of your mouth / With all your love lord running out / Some times you would smile / I'd wish I could change something deep inside of me", deceivingly beautiful with "the Bert Jansch-like descending lines", that's a very good comparison from the bio. "Old Man" contains a soundscape with disturbing traffic sounds and on purpose off-key singing with too many words for the line. "So what if it's on / Second Avenue / He sure knows how to drink my friend / He's got nothin' to lose now / He's just like me." Then "Saints", based on acoustic guitar sounds again. It ends like this: "Thank God for all the litany of saints / I bet maybe half of them ain't / But some of them are true." Adorned with those little bells and other stuff, plus the great back-up singing of Josh: "You don't have that spring in your step / Your heart's a little broke / You wonder when they're gonna find out / That you're so damned worn out." "Daylight" has something slightly Dylanesque: "Daylight on shoulders / That never see the sun... You got a mind for making mistakes / But I'm going to love you forever anyway," while on "What The Sun Can See" the layers of sound are fading in and out, hypnotizing! "I can see what the sun can see / A fountain sealed with memories / Memories you keep / You keep inside your garden walls you keep / Your world from me."
Well, I hope my music loving friends who visit this site, also like listening to poetry. It's worth trying anyway! And if Townes Van Zandt had been born in the late 70s, he might have made music like this...
Written by Johanna J. Bodde, March 2007.