|STRAWBS||THE FERRYMAN’S CURSE||Esoteric/Antenna||Dec. 8, 2017|
STRAWBS — THE FERRYMAN’S CURSE (Dec. 8, 2017) ♠•♠ Sprawling, eclectic folk~rock act whose spacy mix of rock and neo~classical presaged prog~rock.
ψ The first Strawbs album of new material in eight long years!
ψ Esoteric Antenna is very pleased to announce the release of The Ferryman’s Curse, the first Strawbs album of new material in eight long years. It is produced by the legendary Chris Tsangarides, whose studio is littered with diamond, platinum, and gold discs by the likes of Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest and guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen. The Ferryman’s Curse, the title track of the album, is the epic sequel to The Vision Of The Lady Of The Lake, from Strawbs album Dragonfly, rated by producer Tony Visconti as one of his Top six productions alongside albums by David Bowie and T Rex. The Nails From The Hands Of Christ is a challenging look at the relationship that young people have with the church. The Familiarity Of Old Lovers will raise eyebrows, both lyrically and with its twin lead guitar solos, while The Song Of Infinite Sadness is not what it appears to be. The current Strawbs line~up comprises David Cousins, lead guitarist Dave Lambert, bass player Chas Cronk, and drummer Tony Fernandez, who recorded and toured together in the 1970s. They are joined by keyboard and guitar virtuoso Dave Bainbridge of Iona — a band who created a mystical blend of rock, folk, Celtic and ambient music — a perfect match for Strawbs.Location: Hounslow, Middlesex, England
Album release: December 8th, 2017
Recording Date: August, 2017 & September, 2017
Recording Location: Ecology Rooms, Kingsdown, Kent
Record Label: Witchwood/Cherry Red Records (Esoteric/Antenna)
01 In the Beginning 2:01
02 The Nails from the Hands of Christ 6:08
03 The Song of Infinite Sadness 5:02
04 The Familiarity of Old Lovers 6:09
05 When the Spirit Moves 6:50
06 The Ten Commandments 5:34
07 The Reckoning 1:54
08 The Ferryman’s Curse 8:59
09 Bats & Swallows 4:03
10 We Have the Power 3:59
♠•♠ Dave Bainbridge / Dave Cousins / Chas Cronk 1, 2, 5
♠•♠ Dave Cousins 3, 9
♠•♠ Dave Cousins / Chas Cronk 4, 10
♠•♠ Dave Lambert 6
♠•♠ Dave Bainbridge / Dave Cousins 7, 8
♠•♠ Dave Bainbridge Bouzouki, Composer, Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric), Keyboards, Organ (Hammond)
♠•♠ Toby Barton Photography
♠•♠ Gaston Bogaert Cover Photo
♠•♠ Dave Cousins Composer
♠•♠ David Cousins Autoharp, Dulcimer, Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric), Vocals
♠•♠ Chas Cronk Bass, Composer, Guitar (12 String), Vocals
♠•♠ Tony Fernandez Drums, Percussion
♠•♠ Rod Green Artwork, Design
♠•♠ Dave Lambert Composer, E~Bow, Guitar (Acoustic), Lead, Vocals
♠•♠ Chris Tsangarides ProducerReview
AUTHOR: Aaron Badgley /
ψ The Ferryman’s Curse is the first studio album by The Strawbs since 2014’s Prognostic. For the past three years, fans have been waiting for a new studio album, and not only has the wait been worth it, The Strawbs have exceeded all expectations. Quite frankly, this is one of their best albums, ever. The loyal knew they had it in them, and the proof is in this remarkable album.
ψ For this album, the lineup of The Strawbs is their touring band for the past couple of years. Original member Dave Cousins is joined by long standing members Dave Lambert (guitar and vocals) and Chas Cronk (bass/guitar/vocals). Joining the new incarnation are Dave Bainbridge (keyboards) and Tony Fernandez. For the record, Cousins’ voice is in fine form. As good as ever, deeper perhaps, but he sounds fantastic.
ψ For this album Cousins cowrites with every member, as well as writing his own solo songs. He has gone back to what The Strawbs do best~ strong melodies, brilliant instrumentation and stunning lyrics. Lambert contributes terrific songs too. The bottom line is that this is a band, not Cousins with a backing band. This is a tight, well oiled band. The years of touring and playing has allowed them to recreate their own sound and produce prog rock like songs. Listen to Bainbridge’s organ solo in “The Nails From The Hands of Christ”. What makes it so great is that he knows when to cut it and go back to the song. A true talent.
ψ Lyrically, this album has a religious overtone, which is nothing new from The Strawbs. Cousins is not forcing his vision of spirituality on the listener, but rather, these are stories with religious overtures. “The Nails From The Hands Of Christ” reminds me, title wise, of one of their early songs “The Man Who Called Himself Jesus”. Both songs are slightly cynical, but “The Nails From The Hands Of Christ” incorporates technology and youth’s understanding of religion.
“The nails were bent and rusty,
As if to make a point.
She looked them up on Google,
And then she rolled a joint.”
ψ Cousins does not pass judgement, he merely tells the story.
ψ There are other references to religion — “The Ten Commandments” and ”The Song of Infinite Sadness”. Cousins is grappling with mortality throughout the whole album, not your standard pop fare, but it works, musically and lyrically. If you need any more evidence, listen to the last song on the album, “We Have The Power”. Cousins starts the song off counting blessings but ends with
“Ours is but a short life,
From the moment of our birth,
When our ashes scatter,
To the corners of the earth.”
ψ An interesting and somewhat thought provoking ending. He also name checks an older Strawbs song, “Autumn”, which makes it all the more special.
ψ The Strawbs have been around a long time. Their first album was released in 1968. That is almost 50 years, and as with any band with that kind of history, has their ups and downs. But here they have delivered one of their best albums, and one of the best albums of this year. ψ http://spillmagazine.com/
Kris Needs / 14 Nov 2017 / Score: ****½
ψ Later~life reflections as Dave Cousins celebrates Strawbs’ half~century
ψ It’s 50 years since Dave Cousins first fronted Strawbs and, joined by three of the band’s 70s mainstays, he’s created a late~period career peak, bathed in the evocative qualities that made them one of the best~loved early progressive bands.
ψ After breaking through with 1970’s Dragonfly, the Strawbs released a string of prog classics (including three with Rick Wakeman before he defected to Yes), then ‘72’s Grave New World and Bursting At The Seams, which welcomed guitarist Dave Lambert. It reached No.2 after the biblical Lay Down and Chas & Dave~like Part Of The Union earned their first Top 20 hits. 1974’s landmark Hero & Heroin_e introduced bassist Chas Cronk, while drummer Tony Fernandez was in by 1978’s _Deadlines. Cousins then put the Strawbs on the back~burner in the 80s, playing sporadic anniversary reunions until the 21st century’s Acoustic Strawbs. That led to 2004’s Déjà Fou, which employed a full band for the first time in 25 years.
ψ Produced by Chris Tsangarides (Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest), The Ferryman’s Curse beautifully resurrects the Strawbs’ trademark ‘folk rock with a lyrical twist’ style. Cousins is joined by Lambert, Cronk and Fernandez, plus keyboardist guitarist Dave Bainbridge of prog folkies Iona. Apart from the 21st~century production sheen, it’s sometimes hard to believe it wasn’t recorded 45 years ago, although Cousins’ voice hasmatured into a more oaken, subtly expressive vehicle.
ψ After In The Beginning’s electronic orchestral intro, the pure Strawbs’ cut and thrust of The Nails From The Hands Of Christ weighs up the relationship young people have with the church, mentioning Bruce Springsteen and mobile phones. The shimmeringly poignant The Song Of Infinite Sadness looks at the consequences of advancing years, maybe bereavement, as he references ‘two lovers torn apart/A heart that beats alone’. ψ The reflective theme continues on The Familiarity Of Old Lovers, glazed in Mellotron strings and reflecting on life’s unresolved issues. With its chiming bells and love~centred sentiments, When The Spirit Moves should be a Christmas prog Top 10 hit. The Ten Commandments sounds oddly like ZZ Top playing 10cc’s Wall Street Shuffle as Cousins rails about modern society, before The Reckoning’s synthesised orchestra introduces the mysterious folk ballad title track — the album’s epic centrepiece and sequel to Dragonfly’s The Vision Of The Lady Of The Lake, complete with VdGG organ flare~ups.
ψ The album then winds down with the featherlight Bats And Swallows and rollickingly optimistic We Have The Power, but Cousins’ job is already done. By adding this sumptuous late landmark to his band’s timeless legacy, he’s made them immortally relevant.
James Noury 17 Nov 2017
ψ Great album. Absolutely one of the greatest songwriter of all time. Just saw them in concert in Cleveland, Ohio. Dave Cousins is always available to talk to before or after the show.
Jon Spencer 02 Dec 2017
ψ A cracking return to form after a few stalled attempts during the ‘90s and 2000s. Bainbridge’s keys and Lambert’s stunning solos are the instrumental high points in this album. Brilliant!
|STRAWBS||THE FERRYMAN’S CURSE||Esoteric/Antenna||Dec. 8, 2017|