CD Review – ‘Old Black Crow’ by Emma and The Professor

Review by Keith Whiddon (of The Flying Toads and Bouzatina).

EMMA & THE PROFESSOR

Old Black Crow – (OWN LABEL) http://www.emmaandtheprofessor.co.uk

Old Black Crow is the latest high-energy musical offering from Shropshire couple Emma Heath (guitar and vocals) and Mark Davies (bodhrán and Cajon). The duo is joined by an impressive array of guest musicians including Benji Kirkpatrick (banjo and bouzouki); Ben Walsh (fiddle); Jack Rowe (fiddle) and Marion Fleetwood (fiddle and string arrangements).

Many of the songs are self-penned and inspired by the ancient history and beauty of the couple’s native Shropshire. Emma has a rich and powerful voice and driving guitar style while Mark’s no-nonsense bodhrán playing roots the music and sets its direction. The end result is an uplifting and exciting listening experience.

Right from the opening title track it is clear that this is an album of full-throttle songs! ‘Old Black Crow’ is a rockin’ bluesy romp, driven along nicely by Benji Kirkpatrick guesting on banjo.

Mark’s ‘Battle Of The Marches’ features Kirkpatrick on bouzouki and tells tales of the mysticism that lies in the hills of the duo’s native Shropshire. This is no wimpy fairy story, more a full-on battle of Middle-earth epic proportions!

The beautifully sensitive ‘Servant Slave’ is of marked contrast. With its Middle-Eastern overtones reinforced by Kirkpatrick’s bouzouki, here Emma’s voice is showcased to good effect.

The traditional American murder ballad ‘Rain And Snow’ is given a makeover, with impressive fiddle provided by Jack Rowe. The concluding ‘Rivers’ is like an Indian Raga, Emma harmonising with herself across Mark’s driving rhythm section.

Old Black Crow radiates with the energy that lies within the ancient lands of the Welsh Marches. Here are tales of sorrow, loss, hope and love all delivered with deep passion and soul.

Keith Whiddon