Strawbs – Settlement
(Cherry Red Records – 2021)
The Rockin' Folk Maestros are back with this album and comprise of Dave Cousins (Lead Vocals, Guitar, Dulcimer & Banjo); Dave Lambert (Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar & Vocals); Chas Cronk (Bass Guitar, Acoustic Guitar & Vocals); Tony Fernandez (Drums) & Dave Bainbridge (Keyboards).
You get the nine track album and three bonus cuts too that go under the banner 'Off The Beaten Tracks'. It takes a bit to build and begins with the unsettling 'Settlement' and really hits you in the face lyrically and musically with the bouncy and strong hitting 'Each Manner Of Man'.
'The Visit' is is a nice touch that I can imagine being a brilliant contender in a future live set with its acoustic and harmonising vocal beauty and followed up by the immense instrumental 'Flying Free'; the haunting 'We Are Everyone' with the high-ended held on vocal of the title words and bright sinister strings.
Then there's the story-telling 'Champion Jack' about a boxer who spent time in the war and prison camp that has some incredibly dulcimer playing and soaring guitar work too and fantastic vocal harmonies too; the fun of the Cajun/Zydeco-like 'Better Days (Life Is Not A Game)' or flowing almost dreamlike at times closer that is 'Liberty'.
Worth mentioning are the guests on here who are Blue Weaver, Cathryn Craig, John Ford and Schalk Joubert who add extra explosive elements to the album too. This is pure proof right here that no lockdown can stop a great band from achieving and releasing a brilliant album.
By Glenn Milligan