Kacy Crowley’s career arc looks like that of another Austin singer-songwriter, Sara Hickman — only a decade later. Both performers built a word-of-mouth buzz for their intimate, acoustic performances; signed to a major label (Crowley with Atlantic, Hickman with Elektra); had their indie debuts (Crowley’s Anchorless, and Hickman’s Equal Scary People) re-released by a major; and were summarily dropped by their labels after completing new albums.
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Hickman ultimately responded to the rejection by devoting much of her creative energy to making children’s music and delivering motivational speeches. Crowley, however, continues to plow ahead with the plainspoken, sensitive-but-unsentimental depictions of adult life that attracted industry attention in the first place.
A Massachusetts native who moved to Austin in the ’90s, Crowley has survived cancer and drug dependency, and her raspy voice tells you that she has no illusions. The most accessible song on her 2003 album Tramps Like Us (her first release in six years) looks at a relationship and concludes that “it’s kind of perfect,” but Crowley isn’t singing about bottle-rockets-in-the-sky perfection. This is the subtle kind of contentment that sneaks up on you when you’re not looking for it. When she’s at her understated best, much the same could be said for Crowley’s music.
- Gilbert Garcia