published: 17 /
Preservation Society Presents
Engaging, but deliberately uncomfortable fifth album from Chatham-based singer-songwriter, Lupen Crook
It continues to amaze me that Lupen Crook doesn’t receive more radio play. He’s skirted the edges of “popular” since the release of his first EP in 2005, 'Petals Fresh From Roadkill', with that record getting him an interview in the 'NME' and a place on that year’s ‘Cool List’ - admittedly, a dubious honour, but the point is, his name was getting out there. To my ears, his sound has become more mainstream over the years, so the fact he remains a peripheral artist - if a very well respected, popular one – remains baffling. Or maybe I just listen to too much weird music, so anything vaguely melodic sounds mainstream to me?
Either way, I think more people should be listening to his latest album, 'British Folk Tales' (a bit of a misnomer – this is definitely not a folk album). While not as immediately grabbing as 2010’s 'The Pros and Cons of Eating Out' (his finest moment to date, in my opinion), this new record seems to have a much more subtle, emotional side to it which may come as something of a surprise to anyone used to the harsher, darker sounds which usually make up a Lupen Crook release (not that there aren’t still plenty of darker shades among these songs).
One thing that carries through all of Lupen’s albums and singles is a rawness that borders on uncomfortable listening. Lyrics like “Every morning you leave for work and I tear myself to shreds/And when we make love, I’m not even there” - from 'Crumb Trails' – almost make you feel like you’re intruding on something incredibly personal, but at the same time make the song seem so real that it’s hard not to get sucked in.
Of course, being a Lupen Crook record, there’s still plenty of room for some rowdiness, and tracks like 'The Wider World', 'The Counting Song' and first single 'Treasons To Be Beautiful' fill that role extremely well. What makes Lupen Crook most interesting and exciting as an artist is his free-wheeling approach to genre and style; he seemingly just does whatever he wants, with no two songs ever sounding the same, but always being intrinsically “Lupen Crook”.
'British Folk Tales' continues the story of one of Britain’s most engaging, eclectic and unique musical figures. If you’re one of those people who hasn’t been listening up to now – what is your problem, you idiot?! Go back to the beginning and make your way through his discography. You’ll thank yourself for taking the time.
The Counting Song
Treasons to Be Beautiful
My Mistaken Angel
Note to Self
The Wider World
If You Love Me Come the Morning
The Emerging Seas