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8 out of 10
It's taken me a hell of a long time to feel comfortable enough to sit down and write this review. William Fitzsimmons was a name I had heard of a few years due to the track "Funeral Dress", an incredibly beautiful track that stuck with me. When I saw his name on the review list I instantly chose to be the one who got his CD. Now, singer-songwriters don't make up the bulk of my collection, in fact a quick scan will show they fall somewhere behind '80s Synth Pop' and 'Hair Metal', so any comparisons I draw may seem simplistic and I apologise.
The Sparrow and Crow is honest, crushingly so in fact. No-one is going to be having any major problems working out what Fitzsimmons is singing about, and this adds to the discomfort of the listening experience. The album is the result of the break-up of his parents' marriage, followed by the break-up of his own, and it is understandable that he would want to write this album. Rarely have I listened to a piece of music that has allowed me to feel what the songwriter was feeling at the time with such clarity. Again, this is as far from easy listening as it is possible to get. You don't just have this on in the background, it reels you in and you are consumed by it.
This is not to say that Fitzsimmons has sacrificed his ability to write beautiful music in his new confessional songwriting style. Just Not Each Other is both simplistic and devastatingly beautiful, praise I seldom give music. Comparisons with both Bon Iver and Elliott Smith seem inevitable, and to my ears are wholly justified. However, The Sparrow and The Crow sounds more polished than most of Smith's early work and certainly more so than Bon Iver's 'For Emma, For Ever Ago', yet it is lyrically more raw, ignoring symbolism and analogy in favour of straight up honesty. This juxtaposition of music and words makes the message that much more powerful.
Despite the subject matter of the album it never feels over self-pitying or self-absorbed. While this may be a hard album to listen to, I'm sure it was a harder album to write and release. We should be thankful that Fitzsimmons did, because it is a fantastic album. After Afterall a re-working of the closing track from his previous album, is a haunting way to start the album, and to finish the album with the optimistic Goodmorning Fitzsimmons finds a way to almost make the listener forget about the pain and agony of the proceeding 11 tracks.
This is an album that will stay with you for a long time and rightly so, it is a beautiful CD.
1. After Afterall
2. I Don't Feel it Anymore (Song of the Sparrow)
3. We Feel Alone
4. If You Would Come Back Home
5. Please Forgive Me (Song of the Crow)
6. Further From You
7. Just Not Each Other
8. Even Now
9. You Still Hurt Me
10. They'll Take the Good Years
11. Find Me To Forgive