Legendary British folk/prog act Strawbs have been fairly prolific since reuniting in the late '80s, and their latest release Ferryman's Curse is their 8th new studio effort since the turn of the 2000s. For this latest platter of folky prog, the new version of the band (they've never really been able to keep a stable line-up for very long) consists of:
Dave Cousins - guitar, dulcimer, banjo, vocals
Dave Lambert – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocals
Chas Cronk – bass guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals
Dave Bainbridge – keyboards
Tony Fernandez – drums
Things kick off in exciting fashion here with the excellent 1-2 punch of "In the Beginning" and "Nails from the Hands of Christ", the bands progressive rock tendencies out in full force thanks to some excellent Hammond organ, synth, and Mellotron from Bainbridge, who many will recognize from the fine work he's done with his band Iona. He also contributes guitar alongside the formidable skills of Lambert, who has manned the guitar slot in Straws since the early '70s. Founder Cousins still has that gentle voice we remembered from the old days, his fragile tones and gorgeous acoustic guitar strains shine on "The Song of Infinite Sadness", and he's backed by sizzling lead electric guitar, organ, and the mighty Mellotron on the wonderful folky prog of "The Familiarity of Old Lovers". Lush acoustic guitar and synths permeate the dreamy "When the Spirit Moves", Cousins and the rest of the band doing a fine job on the layers of vocals, while the band go for a more bluesy, hard rock tone on the sultry "The Ten Commandments". The instrumental "The Reckoning" is another stunning prog experience, though it's a shame it's so short, littered with keyboard textures from Bainbridge and plenty of intricate acoustic guitars, which leads into the mystical title track, Cousins telling the story of the Ferryman over scintillating musical passages that include piano, scorching lead guitar, booming bass, Hammond organ, and sweeping synths. It's a prog epic of the highest order that will thrill any fan of vintage Genesis. "Bats and Swallows" is more of a pop/folk track with some breezy melodies, and the bright, upbeat closer "We Have the Power" is a potent blend of symphonic prog and hard rock, the synths orchestral and the guitars metallic, showing that Strawbs can easily keep up with any neo-prog band on the scene today.
Ferryman's Curse is a really strong album from this veteran band, who show no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Hopefully this line-up, which is comprised of founding, longtime, and newer members, can stick together and keep this momentum going. Recommended listening right here!
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
1. In the Beginning (2:02)
2. The Nails from the Hands of Christ (6:04)
3. The Song of Infinite Sadness (5:00)
4. The Familiarity of Old Lovers (6:21)
5. When the Spirit Moves (6:48)
6. The Ten Commandments (5:32)
7. The Reckoning (1:53)
8. The Ferryman's Curse (8:57)
9. Bats and Swallows (4:02)
10. We Have the Power (3:58)