‘Made Undone’ Rhiannon Crutchley


The Brewer’s Daughter

Some thoughts on Rhiannon Crutchley’s new album from Alan Dearling

Rhiannon Crutchley is a narrow-boat dweller and much of the content in this new album reflects her  water-borne lifestyle. It’s a highly personal and independent-minded album. As an alternative, acoustic musician, she performs under the stage name: The Brewer’s Daughter.

Her latest collection offers what are possibly folk songs for darklings! They are frequently a fulsome mix of optimism and angst. It’s a powerful, and at times, edgy and angry album.  But as the Brewer’s Daughter she profers a rich variety of styles, which she describes as, “…folk, world music, grunge, ska, blues and soul”. She is a multi-instrumentalist, performing on acoustic guitar and violin, and along with Magnus Martin (guitarist with Hawkwind) on lead guitar and on piano for the final track, ‘The Way We Were’, offers some really rather drop-dead, gorgeous instrumental and lyrical magic alongside plenty of well-crafted songs.

Even after one listen, many of the songs, like adoptive ear-worms, feel familiar, like old friends. Overall, as the Brewer’s Daughter on this new album, she often adopts a slightly sneering, challenging, working-class tone and diction. For instance, on ‘The Kitten’ she reminded me a little of Kirsty MacColl on ‘Fairytale of New York’.  Indeed, there’s a piratical swagger, a kind of minstrelsy to many of the tunes including ‘Hazel’ which comes later in the album. She offers a number of songs from her boat-dwelling life including the plaintive, ‘Waterways Lament’, that fears the demise of ‘real’ Travellers and working boats as pleasure boats cause mayhem on ‘The Cut’, as the waterways are known. In the opening number, ‘Single Berth’, there is a hint of positivity, where she sings, “There’s space for you on my single berth.”   There are also Ukrainian influences from her own heritage present in her chosen tracks, such as the eventual, powerful surge of energy in her fiddle-playing on ‘Frailach’, which reminded me a little of the old Traveller band, Tofu Love Frogs.

And, since the first listen, I’ve returned again to the closing track, ‘The Way We Were’, which could easily be used for a film soundtrack with the gently interweaving sounds of violin and piano in what is almost a semi-classical arrangement. Reminiscent of rippling water and iridescent with the repeated musical motifs that shimmer and shift. A kind of beatific ‘Tubular Bells’ for the New Age, perhaps. The track actually employs the musical theme from the second track on the album, ‘The Wolf’. ‘The Wolf’ live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTFVhB12Tek


Rhiannon, Magnus and her friend, Mel Rogers from Tarantism are part of The Brewer’s Daughter ‘Made Undone’ tour this spring.  Rhiannon told me: “Yes, it’s very difficult filling in so many roles during a release. I’m rather looking forward to being a musician again on tour, but I suppose I’ll have to be a promoter, work the door, sometimes even a sound engineer too!”

Rhiannon adds: “This (album) is made for the sake of creating something beautiful. Being completely free and independent meant that The Brewer’s Daughter has clearly made no compromise.”

‘MADE UNDONE’ – Rhiannon Crutchley on “What’s in a name?”

‘Made Undone’ also signifies the development a woman goes through when they are reaching the end of their time as ‘Maiden’. With these images I play with themes of innocence, sexuality, fertility and combine them with a look in the eye that someone only inhibits once they have fought through their adolescence and reached that point where they really have had to reign over their own world.

The use of a custom-made Ukrainian flower crown gives these notions of being a pure young woman, ready and ripe for pregnancy/marriage but paradoxically worn by myself, imposing, unmarried and childless with a rage in the eye of someone who has had enough of society’s expectations. I stand like a gypsy queen preparing to charge the battlefield. That red fuck-me lipstick is dripping in irony. Give them what they want, while you still have it. Knowing that there isn’t a chance in hell I’m going to fuck you.

Every album is cathartic. It’s like drawing a line under that chapter of your life. This is where I’m at, and man, that last chapter was a tough one. Let me release this beast, all the ashes of my past life and let me grow something beautiful from it. This offering of art-music-words-poetry is the garden that has grown from the dirt of the life I leave behind me. Take my hand and let me guide you slowly through that garden.”



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