Dubliner Adrian Crowley sings melancholy folk that weighs on you with a sense of dread, like a hangover on a Wednesday morning. With a bit more of an electric edge Crowley might sound like a more morbid Coldplay, but electric guitar never makes it to this funereal party. Instead, Crowley's haunted voice, shrouded in reverb and sounding a bit like Nick Drake, hangs solitary among plenty of acoustic guitar, a subdued rhythm section and doleful piano flourishes.
There are some neat arrangements here. The string efforts in "Emotional Playground", which range from staccato pulses to flowing drags, offer a poignant counterpoint to Crowley's striding strums. It also serves to distract from singing that, at least here anyway, gets a little too melodramatic. With "The Cage of My Ribs", Crowley exhibits an expertise at creating stifling atmospheres, as a single note bowed on a cello often rises to the front of the mix, sucking the air, your last dollar and all hope right out of the room with it. The instrumental "Trilogy" also benefits from a similar tension structured off a fluctuating piano chord that, once struck, never seems to die.
A Strange Kind originally saw limited release abroad in 1999, but Ba Da Bing has remastered and re-released it after streeting its follow-up. If you are not willing to get down and consider Crowley's bleak world with him, you may want to steer clear of this record -- but if you dig intelligent and moody folk-rock, this is a necessary listen.