# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Crazy Man Michael - The Green Light

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 10 / 1 / 2009

Crazy Man Michael - The Green Light
Label: Little Red Rabbit Records
Format: CD


Striking debut album from Crazy Man Michael, the project of Mancurian musician Michael Doward, who has taken his influences from sixties folk groups such as Fairport Convention snd then given them a contemporary sound

The dark, bleak cover suggests that we’re in for a disturbing ride through the nine songs that comprise ‘The Green Light’ and naming the project Crazy Man Michael only enforces that impression. The name comes, in fact, from the title of a Fairport Convention song and as soon as the album starts it’s apparent that Crazy Man Michael’s main man Michael Doward has not only been listening closely to that band but many other artists from the decade that ground-breaking group formed in, namely the 1960s, and quite a few that also shared their pink-coloured record label. While what can be loosely termed folk music has made something of a comeback in recent years, albeit at times in a radically altered form with too much of the fashionable weirdness thrown in for no good reason, there hasn’t been so much folk music made that has its roots firmly set in the glory days of the sixties while still sounding contemporary. But that’s what makes much of ‘The Green Light’ so special. The fact that Doward ( who handles the main vocals, guitars, bass, ukulele, mandolin and piano ) has taken those sounds out of the folk clubs and basements which blossomed in the sixties, dusted them down and buffed them up with a clear, shiny production so that the songs sound alive and of the moment. The string arrangements by David Christensen have much to do with the positive, uplifting sound these songs create. There’s even an instrumental, ‘Halcyon’, which ‘talks’ to the listener and which will brighten even the darkest day. The flute (by Anna Zweck) and acoustic guitar say more than words ever could. It’s a stunning piece of music which one day will find its rightful place in the world which isn’t being tucked away half-way through an album that would win first prize in the most gloomiest album cover ever contest. With those striking string arrangements comparisons have been made between Doward and Nick Drake and, although these days Drake is hailed as some kind of genius (strange that he was practicality ignored when he was actually making his music), for once those comparisons ring true. The bulk of the album has the influences of Drake and early Donovan all over it. It could be argued that Doward writes a stronger and more immediate tune than either of those legends; the beauty of Crazy Man Michael is that for all it’s folk touches, for all the times Doward has obviously been moved by some obscure music he’s heard which originated four decades ago he has created something new and fresh with ‘The Green Light’. It might be a well-worn cliché but it is true in this case. The whole album is immaculately recorded, there are no rough edges but it’s not over-polished and with Sam Lench also providing ukulele and percussion, James Youngjohns on viola and harmonium along with the aforementioned Anna Zweck adding her vocals as well as the flute there is a always something new to discover. The overall sound is uncluttered with each instrument as clear as a bell and Doward’s vocals, while nothing spectacular or unusual, suit this type of music well especially on what is currently the favourite song around these parts, ‘Evangeline’; a gorgeous melody with Doward sounding close to the aforementioned Mr. Leitch and which proves that if you’ve got the tunes you don’t need to swamp them with all manner of instruments to get them noticed. Nine songs and the most enjoyable forty minutes I’ve spent listening to an album by a new artist for some time. Ignore those that say the album looses its way half-way through, while the second to last song, ‘Night’s Journey’ does take longer to appreciate than those preceding it, the album keeps up an extremely high standard throughout. For those who are old folkies at heart and who are looking for someone and something new to replace those well-worn slabs of vinyl from 30 to 40 years ago but also want to hear some fresh music then welcome to Crazy Man Michael, he’s the real deal.

Track Listing:-
1 Winter Song
2 Falling
3 Doomed Youth Blues
4 Evangeline
5 Reaching Out
6 Halcyon
7 A Guiding Light
8 Night's Journey
9 Know You Well

Label Links:-

Post A Comment

your name
ie London, UK
Check box to submit


Interview (2009)
Crazy Man Michael - Interview
A member of Last Harbour and Anna Kashfi, Mancurian musician Michael Dorward has just released his own album, the 60s folk-tinged 'The Green Light', under the moniker of Crazy Man Michael. He talks to Malcolm Carter about its making and balancing the different strands of his busy musical career

live reviews

Koko, London, 8/2/2012
Crazy Man Michael - Koko, London, 8/2/2012
Jamie Rowland is impressed by alternative rock act WATERS' energy and gusto, which is powerful enough to silence the whole crowd, in a support slot to Nada Surf at the KOKO in London


most viewed articles

most viewed reviews

Pennyblackmusic Regular Contributors