“The perfect music for the modern-day opium den.”
—Robert Mendel, assistant director
“What you are about to hear, though it may not sound like it, is solo electric guitar in a piece from Julia Crowe called ‘Black Feather,’ essentially a bit of live electronica triggered and originating from her guitar on an album called Smoke & Steel. She just might have easily called it, ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ because in the liner notes, she says, ‘One take, one track, one guitar. No overdubs.’ I’m guessing she’s got every possible pedal and effect for guitar going on this piece because this track is really an exercise in electronica driven by the guitar…it is unconventional and sounds nothing like guitar music. As an album, Smoke & Steel runs from gutbucket blues rock to tracks that are considerably more abstract–an interesting album from a talented guitarist in her own right.
—John Schaefer, host of New Sounds on WNYC.org, National Public Radio.
“Listening to Smoke & Steel is the best sort of haunting. Part memory, part dream, it’s all raw passion. It’s that boy you want to hunt down and skin like a rabbit, that open sky with roiling clouds, the weeping you haven’t gotten around to yet. Her fingers are in perpetual, exquisite dialogue–teasing, arguing, falling in love. The music is the product of a brilliant mind and an expansive heart. An uncompromising original artist, not to be missed.
—Sheri Holman, screenwriter and author of the novel Mammoth Cheese, short-listed for the Orange Prize
“Old friends who made the journey downtown for my show included classical guitarist and now electric guitar-slinger Julia Crowe who has a beautiful new album out now entitled Smoke & Steel.”
—Gary Lucas, Grammy-nominated guitarist, composer and songwriter
“I think you brilliantly captured the solitary guitarist discovering the potential of the instrument while creating an eclectic set of original and emotion packed works. Bravo!”
— Dr. Stephen Robinson, Professor of Music Stetson University
“You definitely need to check out, Smoke & Steel. It’s amazing.
“One thing: Julia states in the liner notes, ‘one guitar, one take, no overdubs’ — but it’s clear that there are at least 3 or 4 guitars playing simultaneously on each track. And some of them have an entire guitar army. No way does one person hit all those notes, countermelodies and rhythms. It’s not possible. It must be heard to be believed (or disbelieved).
“Julia looks too good and plays too well. I’ve played guitar decades longer than she has—and when I play—it only sounds like HALF a guitar player is playing. Julia is obviously a Guitar Sorceress. Hence, the reference to ‘smoke and steel’ — obviously two ingredients of the potion she’s concocted in her bubbling, bluesy, rock ‘n roll cauldron.
“The whole CD has an otherworldly feel. Each track transports you to a different place. And, c’mon—how can that be done unless by some kind of audio spell? That’s it. Julia has used her guitar as a talisman to cast a series of fabulous spells on her listeners.
“I played it straight through on the way to work last Thursday and I wound up driving to Katmandu. Still don’t know how I got over all that water. Seriously, Julia. Amazing stuff.”
–Paul Barrosse, supervising producer, VH1’s Behind the Music series
“I’m officially a MASSIVE fan of Smoke & Steel, and that’s EXACTLY what it is! Smoke and Steel — damn, Julia, that’s some fine, wild, interesting, tasty stuff! Really unusual. I am crazy for it. I threw it into the car and dug it all the way into Hollywood on a really rainy morning. Perfect soundtrack for the drive. Hard to believe that’s all one take, one track. Just beautiful stuff. And what a nice packaging job too — beautiful pictures! You know how to make that Gibson JUMP.”
–Brad Hall, film writer-producer
Classical Guitar’s Eccentric Sibling… Drawing from her mastery of classical guitar technique, Julia Crowe takes her Les Paul to heights hitherto unknown in the electric guitar world. Julia has adeptly applied the richness and complexity of classical technique and composition whereby opening up a floodgate of musical possibilities that I suspect she has only begun to exploit. Yet along with extraordinary playing, you will also hear an accomplished composer of refreshing originality. The music is all at once exciting, relaxing and introspective. In any given piece you are treated to a wonderful merging of diverse musical styles, modalities, and rhythmic energy. Do yourself a favor and buy it now, there is nothing quite like it, her – a must have recording for any aficionado of both guitar virtuosity and substantive composition.
“I like you a lot.”
—Ron Nevison, sound engineer/record producer
“I only subscribe to such things when I like what ‘I hear’ sufficiently to pass it on to friends. A handful of years ago an artist many called ‘Mr. Guitar’ by the Windham Hill artists, ‘Michael Hedges’ reposed. I loved his eclectic but always clever and precise technique as a guitarist. One thing that I respect from you, as well, is the ability to play technically correct classical and other genres, and to do so with respect for their traditions. This is what, in my never humble opinion, gives you the honest freedom to create out from there. I’m sure that you’ve heard the artist, music or otherwise, that says, ‘Well, I’m not into that traditional stuff,’ when in fact they’re not just able to play or paint or write it and just lack the honesty to say so. If they do have this honesty, then they too have a place in the relative creativity pool, again, in my never humble opinion. Again, I love your diverse and more than merely sameness creativity and look forward to taking the time to pay attention to your work more. I’ll pass it on.”
– Timothy Gates, Ohio
“I had visions of phantasmagoria black mountain side while listening to your track Tennessee Turk… and I will do all I must to get a hold of the CD with that on it!!”
– Susan Fitoussi, France
“A friend of mine told me about you. She said you were one of the very best guitar players in the world. I usually don’t put a lot of stock into such high praise. I mean I once thought that Dirty Looks was going to be the next big Metal Band, and that Jessica Simpson would have to do nude photos to get anyone to pay attention to her. Ok I was at least semi close on the second one, but seriously, you are quite good. You aren’t just a good guitar player, the complete package, writer, and composer as well.”
– B.C. Beneke, Minnesota
“Your playing puts in mind the spirit of Michael Hedges, a legendary innovator with a deep sense of melody & harmony.”
– Guy Pople, U.K.
“I heard Rene Izquierdo perform your piece “Sid’s Swagger” and also a few times before the performance. I thought it was great, with its impeccable rockabilly-type motif.”
– Matthew Miller, Wisconsin
“It’s been a pleasure to discover your world, original and beautiful playing and music, “Pewter Sky” is very nice iced-bluesy, kind of blue…”
– Lucio Damascelli, Rome
“What PLANET are you from?! Incredible mix of unexpected rhythm, pace, and tone. Where do you get that ‘edge of breakup’ sound from? Amazing. Captivating. I love it.”
– George Pepper, Texas
“This music is incredible. You experience a Rock sound on an electric guitar with a Classical-style emotional draw. Her art is the musical equivalent to viewing a beautiful painting or sculpture up close. Julia’s music freezes a moment of emotion in place and lets you explore all angles. She also included tracks that are just plain fun to listen to and some that are haunting experience. Her music reaches inside you and re-adjusts your emotional settings.”
Ben Kirkland, Katy TX