Tom Eure – The Coin, the Prayer & the Crow
Tom Eure’s The Coin, the Prayer & the Crow contains all of the inspired elements that’s distinguished his five previous solo releases and over forty guest appearances on other’s albums, but it also expands on his usual array of effects. His choice to work alongside vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Amelia Osborne exerts a transformative hold over this music and their partnership fires both the lyrically strong and instrumental numbers alike with an unusual amount of spirit. Many of the album’s songs, even the shorter instrumental numbers, possess an almost cinematic quality that engages listeners physically and mentally without ever coming off as pretentious or overwrought. The thirteen songs on The Coin, the Prayer & the Crow lean more towards lyric driven songs, but it’s a coherent effort from the first and even the instrumental tracks soar with their own particular array of immensely musical voices.
There are some immensely inviting and friendly qualities surrounding the opening song “The Wind Will Take You Home” and it never feels forced or phony. Instead, listeners are swept up into the swirl of string instruments powering the song and the unique power and melody present in Eure’s singing voice may take a second to adjust to for newcomers, but he pays off enormously as the song progresses. “Yes Please” is an instrumental, the album’s first, but it’s so intensely melodic that listeners will never feel deflated by the absence of a singer. It draws upon Eure’s Appalachian influences more directly than the album opener and that vibe continues with the third track “Common Ground”. The third track is definitely one of Eure’s more powerfully moving tunes and has a strong bluegrass tint well in keeping with Eure’s Appalachian roots. The significant contributions from Amelia Osborne reach their peak with the album’s fourth performance, “Song of Remembrance”, and the song plumbs through a range of difficult emotions without ever succumbing to despair. It’s an even-handed and enormously wise work with a beating heart we don’t often hear in any modern music, regardless of genre or style.
“The Best of Thee” mines American history for its lyric but places it firmly in the context of a personal narrative and the accomplishments are substantial. Eure does an extraordinary job of dramatizing the writing in such a way we buy into his storytelling and willingly suspend disbelief. The music is lush and has a melodic embarrassment of riches that makes it stand out on an otherwise fine album full of such strengths. Amelia Osborne’s lead vocal on the song “The Carving Tree” strikes all the right traditional notes without ever slavishly imitating some crass idea of what constitutes such music. That’s no small feat in and of itself. The showcase instrumental track “Blue Smoke Hills” comes from the same reference point as Eure recasts elements of traditional Appalachian instrumental music in a distinctly modern light with splendid results. “I’m Bound” is a melodically tight, bare bones number with a vocal mimicking the song title in the way it adheres to the instrumental melody. It’s a powerful collection without a single example of filler and easily rates as Tom Eure’s best solo release yet.