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STRAWBS - Painted Sky

STRAWBS - Painted Sky
Witchwood Media WMCD2028

For those of you that prefer the acoustic version of Strawbs (this is the second 'Acoustic' Strawbs [per]mutation), which is how they tend to appear mostly these days, this album will be an essential addition to your collection. Officially released at the end of last year, this Californian-production doesn't appear to have been universally available until now. For a band with such a chequered history as this one, consistency of content does not come with the territory - there have been more non-acoustic versions of this band than anyone needs to know. This gathering of usual suspects features the three most constant members (at least since Strawbs #10 when Chas Cronk joined [Dave Lambert having joined Strawbs #9]). Dave Cousins has been there most of the time (although there was a period when even he wasn't a member!). Anybody looking for new material will find a dearth here - six songs that first appeared in the 70s, one from 1969 and two from their most recent studio album (2004).

What is different is the return to more relaxed acoustic folk arrangements. Even 'Grace Darling' benefits from a revisit that only three acoustic guitars can bring (even better than the seminal Cousins/Willoughby [Old School Songs] version). Those of us familiar with the distinctive Cousins vocals will find that he can still command respectable strength in depth that belies his years. Should help to find them a new audience - although being close to their sell by date, I'd make a special effort to see them soon.

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 70 of The Living Tradition magazine.