The Crooked Man purges his hard drive in musical spring clean
For nine years Matthew Pritchard AKA Lupen Crook has transfixed me. Ever since I first heard him and saw him live he’s been an ever present spectre in my life. I dread to think how many days I’ve spent listening to his music or how many more days I will spend? These are questions whose answers are best left unknown. In those nine years he has released five full albums, at least fifteen singles and EP’s and a couple of odds and sods compilations. However since 2013 he’s been quiet. That is until this month. Since the start of April he has released a live album (XFM Sessions), a Best of (Single Life 2005 – 2012) and a collection of some of twenty six B-Sides and rarities (B-Sides of Life). Let’s hope that this sudden spurt of activity is because he is cleaning his house, conscious, and some new material it in the near future.
After listening to these new collections, what strikes me is how rich and vibrant these songs are. They contain an honesty that has been lacking from British singer songwriters in recent years. Instead of writing singles and trying to get his face on billboards and buses, Crook has always strived to be honest and portray what’s going on around him. Breakthrough single Lucky 6 is about child abuse and its follow up Halloween is about trick and treating, but through a simple chord progression with a few decisive words into something far more sinister than getting chocolate and egging doors.
Musically he’s all over the shops too. Blood Letter Baby has a klezmer vibe to it, Chasing Dragons is a full on rocker, Junk ‘n Jubilee, as the name suggests, has a junkyard feel to it. The Hidden Track is a lo-fi lament that tugs at the heart strings “I’m as drunk as a poet but I ain’t got no words, There’s nothing for me to say that you ain’t said first, So this is my song for the death dumb and blind, This is my sympathy, My last goodbye”. Sunshine Devils is about mental illness, and the optimism of a new morning after surviving a harrowing night.
What these albums show is that although the charts are dominated by over produced slick pop and fame hungry guitar pluckers, there are musicians out there who constantly try and create music that not only entertains us, but challenges us too. It puts a mirror to society, warts and all, and asks us to look at it for what it is. Let’s hope that the Crooked Man picks up his guitar again and leads the charge against torpid music and reactionary bands.