If you listen to “A Room for Two” by Willow Springs with your eyes closed, you’re taken to a deserted and dusty town, somewhere that’s a pitstop to somewhere else, a geographical afterthought where nothing really happens and seasons come and go. Somewhere country music reigns supreme, and unites the community. A surprise then, that lead singer Mark Crockard hails not from the depths of the deep south, but from Northern Ireland.
Before you read on, Willow Springs is giving a FREE download of “A Room For Two”, from the album, to Angry Baby readers. If you’re not already subscribed to Angry Baby, just pop the email address that you’d like it delivered to here and it will be on its way to you straight away, together with a bumper collection of music that has been shared by Angry Baby. The music comes from outstanding artists that you may not have heard before. With a mix of rock, pop, folk…you name it…there’s bound to be something new that floats your musical boat, and all for free! What’s not to like about that?!
The country music influences are out in force on Urban Ghosts. Slide guitars slip into view on the aforementioned album opener, harmonicas add spark and dazzle on “The End of the Pier Show”, while Crockhard croons:
“Maybe I’m a gambler, and you are not the one?”
It’s a record that is proud to wear it’s colours clear, blue denim jeans and white tshirts.
“I’ve been playing on the Belfast music scene for many years and I was inspired by a road trip from Raleigh to Lafayette in 2016 to record some of the songs I had written. Conspiring with some of the people I make music with we put together this album. Im into photography too especially of abandoned buildings and imagining the lives lived in them. One of them is on the cover of the CD and hence the title Urban Ghosts“.
Closing track “Heart and Soul” moves away from the blueprint slightly, by mirroring country through a more modern lens. The jangly guitars and drifty, dreamy vocals are a feature of mid 00s Ryan Adams, and his alt-country stylings, showing that whilst this is a record very much focused on its core influences, there is experimentation and expansion going on.
This is also evident in “I’m All Over You”, held together on a tango beat, with a minor key piano knotting the song structure together.
In summation, the greatest compliment that I can pay Urban Ghosts is that it’s an Americana record that sounds authentic. Often when Europeans try to mimic the music of those across the pond, it comes out at best, forced, and at worst, total self parody. This is different. Urban Ghosts manages to respect its obvious Country/Americana roots, while building it into something that is its own. Something genuine.
Room for Two, Heart and Soul
For Fans of:
Neil Young, John Prine
Willow Springs’ advice for new musicians is inspirational and technical:
“My advice would be ‘just do it’ and say yes to everything you are offered to get involved with musically. You can always pull back later if its not what you want. It’s a good way to meet lots of musicians.
Be kind and remember that no matter where you are, the circle of musicians will be small and everyone will know someone. Connections are vital to making progress.
Learn your way around your instrument, first by copying others, then try to develop your own style. And if you really feel you are destined for the top of the tree and perhaps be in demand from other bands or sessions – learn to read music, otherwise, its not necessary”
Urban Ghosts was released on March 1st. Get your copy here
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