British accordionist Martin Green has involved himself in a number of experimental projects over the years, most notably with the acoustic folk trio Lau. He's no stranger to haunting melodies and tones of darkness, but he achieves a truly impressive level of bleak austerity on the ghost-themed project Crows' Bones. Though billed as a solo outing, Crows' Bones is a collaboration with U.K. singers Becky Unthank (the Unthanks) and Inge Thomson along with Swedish nyckelharpa (a type of Scandinavian fiddle played with keys) player Niklas Roswall, and was first developed as a stage show commissioned by the eclectic Opera North in Leeds. In assembling his conceptual folk opera about ghosts, murder, and the spirit world, Green dipped into Britain's eternal traditional folk song collection The Child Ballads. Between his original compositions and additional material uncovered by Inge and Unthank, Crows' Bones becomes a melancholic journey through the shadow country as narrated by the two singers set to a backdrop of spare sound effects (aided by co-producer Adrian Utley of Portishead), Green's eerie accordion tones, and the otherworldly exaltations of Roswall's strange fiddle. Brooding and intense, this is an impressive set from some of British folk's brightest talents, and its theatrical blend of the experimental and traditional is truly original.
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AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger