Note: the tracks posted are preview clips, ~1 minute long.
Bursting with searingly nasty blues, punkabilly, dazzling electronica and hauntingly ethereal melodies, each of track of Smoke & Steel is a chapter in a sonic memoir of varied textures, detailing Ms. Crowe’s evolution from a classical guitarist into an electric fingerstyle player original. This is one guitarist performing. One take, one track, no overdubs.
“Rotten Tomatoes & Cheap Socks” is a tough, thundering bluesy romp that comes straight out of Ms. Crowe’s teen-aged forays to Maxwell Street in Chicago. “Black Feather” is a jaw-dropping track of guitar-based electronica fused with impressive fingerwork in a piece that sounds like Hendrix played underwater. “Bats & Umbrellas” was inspired by her stay at the U.K. estate that served as a hangout for Surrealist painters Dali, Magritte and May Ray in the 1930s. “Leaves” is a tender ballad, which conveys a lyrical sensitivity in a track that soars and lingers.
[Note from Julia: Looking back on this album, if it sounds stylistically divergent, that was precisely the intention. I wanted it to be experimental and break out of everything I felt confining and “pretty” about classical guitar, all while raiding the technique, for all it was worth, onto the electric.]
Click on the title of each track for its story.