Birmingham, Alabama’s Troy Criswell makes his living as a professional painter. But over the past decades the sixty-four-year-old has been humbly making demo recordings which he has simply filed away to shelves. Enter now his daughter Alyssa Jewell and son-in-law Shane Jewell, who are musicians in Birmingham and who also happen to have a recording studio. After the pair perused through Criswell’s numerous demo CD’s they decided it was time to start making solid recordings and went into the studio and came out with Crazy Man, Criswell’s musical debut and the first of three planned records.
Crazy Man is a tried and true rock n’ roll album with the twang and grit one would expect from an artist formed in Birmingham. The songs are verse-chorus-verse motifs with grunge addled riffs and lyrics that are at times sing-songish and at other times serve as a piecemeal narrative of a story that gets re-hashed throughout the entirety of Crazy Man.
So naturally Crazy Man sets aside all the bullshit of “look at me!” “hey over here!” musical politics that many musicians, especially first timers, spew out trying to garner as much attention for their often overproduced and underperforming first efforts as possible. With the nonsense aside Criswell and company includes son-in-law Shane Jewell on bass and keys, and Alan F. Rogers behind the kit.
Crazy Man opens with the dark and twangy dirge “Isle of the Dead” which sets the tone for what’s to come. Like I said before it’s no bullshit, nothing to prove rock. Then we are transitioned into sing-song, head bobbing sway of “Stay the Same” which ushers us into the heavier and darker rock that sometimes emerges from Criswell on “All that I Need” which has the semi-lucidness of a dream.
It should be noted too how Criswell’s hushed and throat-scratch vocals help to create some of the ethereal darkness which pervades Crazy Man on tracks like “Give it All You Got” and later not so scratchy but more twangy and direct on the hard to beat catchy closer “Crazy Man.”
When one takes into consideration Crazy Man may have never seen the light of day if it hadn’t been for so many chance factors it makes the album seem even more like a rare find that almost went on being lost forever, which to me seems crazy enough man.
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