The sixth studio release from songwriter, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist Tom Eure is called The Coin, the Prayer & the Crow and boats a baker’s dozen of songs mixing lyrically driven numbers with instrumentals. He’s joined on the release by Amelia Osborne, an accomplished singer and student of the style in her own right, and the magical results their working together produces illuminates each outing on this new album. Eure is a definite student of the form, as well, whose talents for co-opting the musical and songwriting language of traditional Celtic and Appalachian folk songs into uniquely relevant and idiosyncratic musical vehicles for his own voice. Osbourne’s work on The Coin, The Prayer & The Crow is a big difference maker in the final merits of the release, but there’s little question that the album’s thirteen performances would stand on their own, albeit in a different way, without her presence.
His embrace of traditional sounds is unabashed. You hear in a particularly strong way on the opener “The Wind Will Take You Home”, particularly in the natural way which the lines unfold one after another while seeming nonetheless predictable in some respects. The longtime devotee of folk music and casual fan alike will find much to admire about this performance. Eure has an unusual singing voice, quite unlike anything we normally associate with commerciality, but he communicates reams of emotion with his singing that far more technically “beautiful” singers struggle to convey without sounding artificial. The first of the album’s near effervescent instruments, “Yes Please”, has every bit of the affirmative sound implied by the title while “Common Ground” invokes that sense of community we infer from the title without ever sounding stilted or straining for effect. One of the more thoughtful moments on The Coin, the Prayer & the Crow comes with the fourth track “Song of Remembrance” , but it never succumbs to heavy-handed histrionics in an effort to convey its weightier emotions. Amelia Osborne’s part in the success of these first four songs is understated, but inestimable. She makes a particularly effective vocal partner for Eure, but her musicianship adds much to Eure’s songwriting vision and makes this an even more memorable opening than we might have otherwise enjoyed.
“The Best of Thee” is a brisk, bluegrass infused number with a historical bent, but it comes off as a deeply human tune despite that. The chorus is particularly lively. There are definitely moments when Eure opts for fully embracing traditional elements and one of those comes with “The Carving Tree”, but it never comes off as folk muzak from some soulless Philistine of the form. If any of these songs are folk pastiches from a modern performer, they are carried off lovingly and with immense and long-lasting respect for the style’s potential to dramatize and transform experience. “All Together Now” is a near solo performance with Eure’s plaintive vocals leading the way while “Blue Smoke Hills”, the album’s longest number, is also an invigorating and tastefully melodic number. He tailors his voice tightly to the fiddle propelled melodies of “I’m Bound” and the finale “Time With You” is a lovely, gently unwinding song to conclude the album with. The Coin, The Prayer & The Crow will linger with you long after even a single listen.