Like its title, there’s something both comforting and
chilling about the gothic folk debut from this Bloomington, Indiana-based duo.
Built primarily around Elise Percy’s haunting voice, plucked acoustic guitar,
rattling percussion and occasional synth twists, Mommy Crow‘s metaphor-rife narratives and psychological
preoccupations (Percy is a PhD student) would work well as accompaniment for
late-night cemetery visits or a fire-side soundtrack.
Tracks like the cello-washed “Gone Are the Thoughts of
Sparrows” and “The Shade” recall vintage (acoustic-based) Throwing Muses; Percy
even stretches her whispered vowels into anguished yowls like Kristen Hersh. Andy
Goheen’s percussion also morphs from traditional shuffles and beats to
clattering accents on the title track and “Churchyard,” creating off-kilter
contrasts that suit the melodies’ diminished chords. Some of the best songs
eschew or downplay the finger-plucked formula for more epic and widescreen
effects: 90 seconds into opener “The Emperor’s Note” an explosion of electric
guitars, percussion and synths morph the song from folky fare to cathartic
rock-out; the percussive 12-string strumming on “Water Tower” provides nice
depth, as do the burbling synths and bird-calls of “The White Bird, In
Springtime”; and the reverb-delay and guitar effects on “Ladders & Mirrors”
(the most Muses-like track of all) add another welcome dimension.
These accents are so effective, and given that a couple of
the finger-plucked drones drag a little, one hopes that future E.P. Hall
recordings will include even more of these subtle, yet essential, additions. It’s those contrasts that best display Percy’s
compellingly creepy melodies.
Tracks: “The Emperor’s Note,” “Water Tower” JOHN SCHACHT