You may already know the tale of Bon Iver’s debut album “For Emma, Long Ago”. As the story goes, the bearded singer/songwriter Justin Vernon holed himself up in a northern Wisconsin cabin during a harsh winter to reflect and record what would eventually become one of the more legendary indie rock records of the past decade. It’s a brooding, mysterious, and lovely work.
The lightly-bearded Papa Crow has one up on Vernon; he already resides in the rural Midwest, in Michigan along the south shore of Lake Superior. And he too has made a brooding and lovely work, albeit a sunnier one.
Sometimes when I wake up early on a Saturday morning, at a time when the kids are still snuggled beneath their blankets and before the sun has decided it’s time to begin drying up the dew on the leaf covered grass, I make a 15 minute drive to the gym rubbing my burning, itchy eyes all the way. During these pre-dawn jaunts I’m barely awake – hell I’m barely alive. The last thing I want to hear is a shredding guitar or a pounding drum. So it’s Sleepy Hollow on WXPN for me.
Papa Crow’s debut kindie CD “Things That Roar” is, essentially, that program. On disc. For families. The music is mellow enough to keep you comfortably numb in bed; a soft hand on your shoulder, sweet warm breath on the back of your neck. Yet the music is also fortified with enough spice and gusto to coax you awake, to ease you into your weekend morning with songs about young children and all that they love: wild animals, peek-a-boo, growing up, and all that they do; fear, dream, cry (the Barry Manillow-via-Latin America “If I Cry” is the album’s standout track).
The vocals are, as you’d expect, hushed, and the guitars picked and plucked acoustic for the most part. There’s not a lot of trickery and zero slight of hand on “Things That Roar”. This is a tranquil album of darling soft rock crafted to gracefully dance with the steam rising from your mug of English Breakfast tea, bowl of homemade oatmeal, and slice of fresh, still-toasty apple crumb cake.
If you value that image, you’ll cherish Papa Crow. Oh yeah, your kids will love it too.
*OWTK received a copy of “Things That Roar” for review consideration. The opinions above are honest and unbiased.