Secret Meeting score: 85
by Philip Moss
Tourniquet – the opening composition on Claire Cronin’s new record, Big Dread Moon – has that incredible quality that only the most special of music can achieve. It is not dictated by the real world, but, instead, seemingly exists in its own time and space. And it’s a quality that runs throughout her new album, Big Dread Moon.
On her last album, Came Down A Storm, songs such as Valentine danced fleetingly with pop tendencies, but such could not be further from the case here. What the Night is Thinking is one of only two tracks that has anything that resembles a chorus. Also, on her 2016 effort, John Dieterich’s lush lo-fi instrumentation wrapped Cronin’s voice in a pastoral experimentative darkness. Big Dread Moon finds her voice coldly isolated – often backed only by the brash icy winds of her roughly strummed hollow-body electric guitar, and the odd fluttering of sparse, erratic drums – the perfect landscape for her to weave her eerie narratives.
Her poetic nature is at the forefront of Wolfman, recalling a sinister tale of a ‘reckless’ wolf that appeared ‘in a doll in a nightgown at my side’. Musically, it has a languid feel, dragging itself along like the tape has has started to slow, but is all the better for it – giving space to Ezra Buchla’s ethereal viola, which allows the sparse soundscape to build alongside the sinister lyrical content. While Cat Power’s seminal album, Moon Pix, is certainly called to mind on a number of tracks, particularly through the vocal delivery and tone of Like A Shield and Call Out.
Big Dread Moon is rainy day or night time music. You decide. Either way – close the curtains, switch off from the real world and drift off into Claire Cronin’s haunting, gothic paradise.