Starting perplexingly enough to assure fans that they are indeed listening to the Cranes, A backwards musicbox prelude leads into this wonderful new album by afore mentioned artists. They are just as eclectic as ever; siblings Alison and Jim Shaw haven’t lost any of their songwriting panache. Alison’s voice is as delicate as it was since she first laid down vocals on their initial recordings. Delicate, yet fractured, in ‘Worlds’ which shows more of a yearning side to her vocal abilities.
The music itself isn’t anywhere near as orchestral as they have been tempted to tinker with in the past. The more recent albums under their own label have had much more emphasis on electronica as well as the trusty acoustic.
There may even be a look back at the ‘Wings of Joy’ days with material that has been stripped right down. Not that the cranes ever did anything by the book or commercial, but there is a strong focus on sounds coming together here. Definitely not as bleak as ‘Wings of Joy’ but easily as toyful with their concoctions.
‘Collecting Stories’ is an instant stand out. A sombre, sad, yet compelingly brooding tune. And although the piano becomes louder towards the end, the song itself is almost yearning for a bombastic crescendo. Something the Cranes are more than capable of delivering, but instead they keep this song mellow, and yet cold – not letting it become more than the sum of its parts.
The Cranes have created yet another work of weirdness, beauty and splendor. Some people have trouble managing one out of three, but here it is replete.