Album number eight and Crowley's fourth for Chemikal Underground, Dark Eyed Messenger comprises 11 songs that alight on the various branches of the song tree the Irish singer-songwriter has established and nurtured between his debut, A Strange Kind, in 1999 and his last release, the ravishing Some Blue Morning, in 2014. While crowned as ever with Crowley's mahoganied baritone, DarkEyed Messenger is the Dublin-based artist's first set untouched by the instrument with which he is most associated, guitar. This is just one of many surprising yet bewitching results of the album's stress-free birth at the hands of American producer and musician Thomas Bartlett, aka Doveman (Sufjan Stevens, Martha Wainwright, The Magnetic Fields). "Thomas said he had a potentially controversial suggestion," recalls Crowley. "He asked how I'd feel about having no guitar on the album. I jumped at the idea. The notion of showing up and just singing appealed to me very much." Recorded in four days in May 2016 in Bartlett's New York studio, the record captures not merely Crowley at the apex of his song-writing powers but also the creative lava that can flow when two perfectly aligned musical minds come together. "Thomas's instinct and my vision seemed to work in synergy," says Crowley. "It was moving to see him conjure these spectral sounds seemingly out of the air between us." "Day one set the rhythm for the week. I'd make coffee while Thomas switched things on. I'd name a song and we'd listen to my demo of it. Thomas would play it on the piano or Mellotron and I'd sing. We'd do a run through. He'd hit record. And then another song and another. He'd say, 'Let's do a scratch vocal' so I'd do a take. But soon we realised my scratch vocals were final takes. By day four we had 11 songs recorded."
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