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Adrian Crowley - When You Are Here You Are Family

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Artist: Adrian Crowley

Album: When You Are Here You Are Family

Label: Ba Da Bing

Review date: Mar. 31, 2002


A few days ago, you, for the first time, really, really crapped out in love. Your fragile heart was crushed under heel, ground into a fine powder and scattered in the winds. Nothing has ever burned quite like this before. The pain from previous rejected overtures was pissant irritation compared to this. That first blow hit you so hard and so deep you couldn't cry. You were numb. In a few hours, the second blow hit. It did indeed. You punched a hole in the drywall. Then, you sobbed and blubbered like a schoolgirl. You didn't want to wake up the next morning, much less get up. You thought the downpour would never let up.

Now, a few days later, you should be on your way back to normal. And, admittedly, even this epic melancholy beats that first night's skewering. But you're still aching in the bowels of your soul.

Irelandís Adrian Crowley can help. "Tall Ships," the opening dirge on When You Are Here You Are Family, beautifies ache and fatigue like a heartbroken steam engine whistling Tennyson's In Memorium as set to music by Leonard Cohen. Crowley sings like a seasick Emerald Isle Jeff Buckley, with all the anguish and none of the affected smoothness. "Tall Ships" creaks and mourns deeply enough to earn a slot on Idaho's Year After Year, which is about the highest praise a sad song will ever get from your reporter. And that goddamn cello. Man. You now know that, in a world where such empathy can exist, no fashionably aloof crush object can keep you indoors.

But you still feel profoundly sad. And full of yourself. So swollen with self pity, you can't keep your balance. Get used to it, kid. It'll happen again and again and again. You'll spend most of the rest of your life in the throes of some sort of heartache. And you'll spend the next 40 or so minutes listening to slow, regretful mope-rock very much like "Tall Ships." But, just as your subsequent stumbles will never match the first in agony or intensity of passion, the rest of When You Are Here You Are Family gets less dramatic and less memorable. Less worthwhile, you might even say. Eventually, you might get bored and discouraged and simply want it to end. But, at least emotions get less dangerous with maturity (provided it follows acquisition of wisdom). And, by the closing waltz, "Tonight I Can See," something resembling acceptance kicks in.

Music helps many a sensitive youth absorb the shock of hitting the potholes. Whatever soothes your nerves. Just don't show me your poetry about it; unless your romantic anguish is, like Crowley's, filtered through Steve Albini's austere, unforgiving production, it won't quite translate as art.

By Emerson Dameron

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