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NEW ALBUM: Strawbs - The Ferryman's Curse
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Strawbs ~ The Ferryman’s Curse

[Image: R-11138971-1510573994-3412.jpeg.jpg]
  
The album starts off promisingly enough, but I’m very sorry to say that I think after this, Dave Cousins will have had his day. He always did sound fairly archaic, which seemed to work perfectly well when he was actually a spry young thing, but now that he truly is a quavering septuagenarian, it doesn’t fit so well. What a shame. No doubt about his lyrical wit and songwriting prowess which is as strong as ever, but I found myself getting a tad irritated by his voice which is something I don’t want to be. I certainly wouldn’t recommend the album as a starting point for anyone who’s never heard Strawbs before – I’d say listen to Grave New World, Hero and Heroine, Ghosts, From the Witchwood, Bursting at the Seams and Dragonfly (which was really their last folk oriented album before properly embracing a more progressive sound). If you are already a fan, this will probably pass muster. 
 
I must concede that there are some high points, including great keys by one Dave Bainbridge of Iona, who is new to the line-up, and then the old names from the band’s 1970’s heyday resurface; Dave Lambert, whose guitar remains great, Chas Cronk and Tony Fernandez (Dave Lambert sings one song which seems a bit out of place IMHO, being bluesy in the midst of a thoroughly prog outing). This is heavy subject matter, as is their predilection, with quite a lot of religious/mythological imagery and analogy, the title giving us a clue – the ferryman being the dude who rows you across the river Styx i.e. between this dimension and the underworld. The whole thing’s quite funereal now that I think of it – there’s even crow call on “The Reckoning”.
 
You have to listen to the lyrics to get the stories they tell. I will probably give it another couple of whirls to see whether it sits better - only because I’m a longstanding fan, otherwise I might not! Vocal disappointment aside, the music still gets there - here are some clips … 
 
That Dave Lambert vocal on “The Ten Commandments” … I think he might have written it – not the strongest track on the album … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLwPv9EXwFU
 
“The Reckoning” which is a sequel to “The Vision of the Lady of the Lake” from Dragonflyhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbYf87bAKIY
 
“The Familiarity of Old Lovers” which I posted before when it appeared on YouTube … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bx3tygpy1Ek – definitely one of the better ones.
 
Possibly the best track, for me … “When the Spirit Moves” … 



"The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us." ~ Bill Watterson
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