Band: The Strawbs
CD Title: The Ferrymanís Curse
Label: Esoteric Antenna (2017)
Rating: Best Strawbs since Hero & Heroine
I will admit I was very surprised with this albumÖsurprised at just how great it is. To my ears this is the best Strawbs album since their classic seventies release Hero and Heroine. Which in some ways should be surprising as other than new keyboardist, Ionaís Dave Bainbridge, this is pretty much the same band? And yet, everything about this album takes those seventies signature sounds, the grand drama with powerful layers of Mellotron choirs and strings that virtually explode, juxtaposed against twin, acoustic and electric guitars with some elegant Hammond inserted here and there. There is bigness about the fifty-minutes of music on The Ferrymanís Curse which is not so say there arenít many soft and introspective acoustic moments there as well and itís the meshing of the two which elevates these ten compositions to such a lofty position in the bandís musical catalog. If you are familiar with The Strawbs, you will know they are generally placed in the Folk-Prog category oftentimes with symphonic flourishes and thereís plenty of that here this time around. So you get the warm and melodic acoustic strumming and picking with lush layers of keyboard strings delivering the songís foundation. Then the song will build into these glorious crescendos. Then all of this is placed behind the very distinctive vocals of band mainstay David Cousins. This is the bandís first album of new material in eight years and itís a winner by every measure. Iíve long been a fan of The Strawbs having seen them back in 1976 and have not always felt they satisfied my craving for what they do best and thatís combine the folk and symphonic styles into something uniquely their own. Here they hit it out of the park. Great stuff and highly recommended.