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Art Of Cronshaw

Andrew Cronshaw
Photo: Alexander Brattell
Cronshaw and his music may well borrow, quote, reshuffle and vary. Show me a musician that does not rely on memories of other music. The same deal applies to writers or pictorial artists. What sets Cronshaw and his music apart to my mind is his batting average when it comes to originality. His music is no “echo-chamber of quotations” – how I wish I had come up with that image first – but what he produces is unmistakably his. When you listen to the take on Cyril Tawney’s version of A Rosebud In June renamed The Colour Of The Rose you know 100% that it is pure Cronshaw. It is not just the sonorities. It is the quirkiness and the clarity of what he and Abdullah Chhadeh have done. “When you make a lot of albums, there is no point in doing a new one unless it is all-new. There shouldn’t be a formula. Anybody who’s gigging a lot and has to sell albums at gigs is finding that people are buying less of them. Those albums get sent to review and people say, ‘Yes, but this is just another album by the same people’. One of the nice things about Ochre is that people aren’t expecting me to reproduce it.”

“What I do is a series of secret gardens,” Cronshaw had suggested at the beginning of our conversation. “You see an interesting thread hanging and you pull it to see what’s at the end of it. From that garden open a lot of other gates. I’m always following that ‘new vistas’ thing. That’s why Ochre is turning back and finding new vistas that were there in the first place. You don’t get to make that many albums in your life, so get them right, be happy about them and make them count.”

We are living in an age in which music all too frequently has the eye-catching gaudiness of polyanthus plants with all their vulgarly artificial colours. For me, Ochre is wallflower-like, bursting with vibrant, natural colours. But its music is strongly and fragrantly scented too. Nobody denies that today’s wallflowers are anything but the product of careful selection over many years. It is not stretching the metaphor to say unequivocally that what Cronshaw has done musically makes him, to tweak Maggie Holland’s line, a proper sort of musical gardener too.

fRom fRoots 264, June 2005


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