This lady’s been part of the music industry for 15 years. Finally, she sticks more than just a toe into the musical waters & we are the better for it. Helene Cronin has the voice, a great band, lyrics (take time to read them, it’s worth it) & most importantly, she’s an interesting listen.
The award-winning artist’s 1st LP Old Ghosts & Lost Causes (Independent), drops Oct. 11th. It disturbs me a bit – because this is an artist not signed to a major label? What’s going on? There was a time when a singer like this would have been scooped up by a grouper or shark in that musical ocean. But now, it seems A&R people are guppies.
Does every female artist have to possess a butt like Beyoncé to be noticed? choreography like Paula Abdul? Or defiance and a snarl like Patti Smith? Yes, I know many good female artists write potent material but the influx of the Jonis, Judy Collins’, Laura Nyros & Mary Chapin Carpenters are not in great numbers anymore. It’s a bygone era despite single drops of talent that drip, drip, drip from the creative faucet. Every now & then we get a Helene.
Though she’s neither alt-country, roots, folk, Americana or rock, Ms. Cronin’s a clever writer/singer of authenticity. With aggression, conviction & lots of sand – check out (“El Camino Fly”). That sums it up.
As some already know, HC’s vivid lyrical abilities are without question. She’s like Leonard Cohen — writes with a good editing pen & produces tight, original, tales then adds an invigorating melody. The beauty is that she can be as poignant as the late Judee Sill (“The Kiss,” & “Jesus Was a Cross-maker”). Helene’s own song “In a Kiss,” approaches that level. There’s generous versatility, precision & diversification in each song. Even if Helene doesn’t become a major draw this LP is a brilliant resume. It could draw the attention of many singers to her deep well of distinguished songs.
I didn’t agree on all the focus tracks. Many songs from this LP are engaging but among those I mentioned, I found “Devil I Know” electrifying. The drums (Chad Cromwell) hammer hard, the guitar is slick & the band has torque. “The one who knows just where to stick the knife, the one who knows where all your demons hide.” Oh, yeah, I like Ms. Cronin. This is a killer.
“Ghost,” is an effective acoustic song solely played by Helene & it’s haunting. It possesses a modicum of Townes van Zandt through its guitar picking & lyrical pace.
Produced by Matt King (background vocals), the rest of the band including Chad is: Helene (guitar), Bobby Terry (acoustic & steel guitars, mandolin), Byron House (bass), Kenny Vaughan (guitar), & Heidi Newfield (harmonica on “Mean Bone”, track 2, background vocals). The 11-track, 43-minute LP is available at CDBaby, & iTunes. https://www.helenecronin.com