Album Review: Gifts From Crows – Holding A Thought Forever

Those of you who have been following the blog since last year will know I’m a fan of Chester-based neoclassical composer Richard Laurence who performs under the name Gifts From Crows. His album collects together the tracks we’ve shared over the past six months along with a whole host of new discoveries.

By Graeme Smith

The name Gifts From Crows comes from a story Richard once watched a documentary about birds of the corvid variety often leaving presents for humans. It’s exactly this idea of the whimsy and unexpectedness of nature that you must bear in mind while listening to his music. Life flows through its veins, particularly life that exists outside of the world we construct in our minds. The opening track As Nature Returns is a prime example – encouraging the listener to open their eyes to the wider world and how our behaviour (or lack of behaviour) changes it.

From there, Holding A Thought Forever is an album in which its easy to get enveloped. Pensive moments such as second track Something Thought Lost Is Found are balanced by large, sweeping moments such as the latter half of track three Remembering Who And What We Are.

But When You Sleep… was my first introduction to Richard’s music and, within the context of the album, it sounds even more brilliant. Its looping, waltzing melody is unforgettable. There’s a wonderful video that accompanies the single that you can watch here.

In an interview recorded last year for the Jorvik Radio Arts Show, Richard intimated to me that one of the things that spurred the album was the death of his brother and the other underlying theme of the music – alongside nature – is the is precariousness of life and the journey of self-discovery that grief can trigger. But When You Sleep… and Without Beauty There’s No Hope are both tributes to Richard’s lost brother.

Between those two tracks sits In The Scrying Pool, also a single and largely improvised. With a gentle beginning, it bursts into a waterfall-like melody which provides yet another element to the albums overall sound. Following it is You Can’t Get There From Here which adds an unexpected layer of electronic music to proceedings.

Things are brought to a close by No Place In This World (Elegy) – a building, climactic piece that brings the whole album together – and alternative versions of Remembering Who And What We Are and But When You Sleep… When the final piano key is hit, you will certainly feel you have been on a journey somewhere. You may even see the world outside your window slightly differently.

Have a listen to Holding A Thought Forever below.