Review: Twenty-One Crows – Sons Of Liberty

Sons Of Liberty is the debut album from Brighton four piece Twenty-One Crows

As the artwork suggests, there’s a dockside feel to this record, opening and closing with the sounds of birdsong, light acoustics and waves crashing away at the sand. And, with the deep and dark voice of Jon Griffin, combined with the heavy accordian playing of Rebecca Tann, they offer a certain story-telling vibe to the album – one that takes the listener away to an ageing pub by the harbour, where Twenty-One Crows play, huddled, by the warming fire.

This dockside, traditional theme throughout the album is an important one, as each song is presented like a travellers tale. The band have adopted and rekindled the mythical folk song, something that is not commonly done by people of their age, but is very much welcomed. However, it is not the only running theme within Sons Of Liberty. There are also a vast number of battles – be it historical, personal or political, each track deals with a new fight or the mourning of those lost throughout their conflict.

One of the most interesting and captivating tracks is the twelve-minute long A Tale Of High Wood. This tells the story of one of the most ferocious and devastating battles in the Somme, during World War One. Despite it’s length, it is delivered by Griffin as if he had witnessed the entire event and returned to tell the tale, engaging the listener towards his words so that time is of little importance. Married with this, is the the trad-folk stylings of Tann’s haunting accordian, and the combination of lightly plucked acoustic and the more heartfelt, twangy electric of Dominic Plucknett and Andy Thomas. As a backing-band to Griffin’s raw and bold lyrical servings, they are a highly consistent bunch, presenting simple yet beautiful structures for the likes of Gone From Me and the earnest and appreciated Lament For J. Peel.

The album does however come with it’s flaws…Griffin’s brooding and moody voice being a little exhausting after a while, and the two, political-heavy tracks A Night In The Life and Guantanamo Blues not exactly working in  this mish-mash of subjects. However, I Am Not Afraid brings the record to a superb end, with all the positives throughout this album (and there are many) coming together for an eight-minute flourish of dark folky sounds, tale-telling words and the fight of a personal battle that many can relate to.

Sons Of Liberty is a successful debut from Brighton’s Twenty-One Crows. It may be dark and defiant at times, but the lyrics and particularly the sounds from this four-piece are to be highly praised. To hear a young band present traditional, fireside-tale folk in a modern manner is very pleasing to see, and to do so with such enthusiasm and a range of interesting subjects, there is no doubt that we will hear much more from these upcoming talents.