[Review] Strawbs – Settlement

Strawbs are one of the main bands of Prog music, with marked Folk influences, coming from the UK and in business since the mid 60’s. In their long and successful career, they have released 24 albums, the most recent being “Settlement,” released on February 26, 2021 on LP, CD and Digital via Esoteric Antenna. Containing 9 songs, it shows how the band always manages to offer quality works after more than 55 years of music, always well elaborated and engaging. The album opens with the title track “Settlement” which opens with dark guitar melodies and a warm and enveloping vocal, with the intensity increasing with the passing of the minutes. The track is engaging and the keyboards intertwine with the guitars creating an orchestral background and great instrumental section with poweruf solos, a well-executed and performed piece. “Strange Times” opens with a soft guitar arpeggio and an intense and passionate vocal, the atmospheres are softer with a pleasant orchestral background. Full of pathos and very enveloping, this song shows the compositional technique of the band, always skilled in arousing emotions. More rhythmic “Judgment Day” is also the longest track on the album, with over 7 minutes in length. The intertwining of sung and instrumental parts is of a high standard, the melodies soft but engaging and rich in phrasing between the instruments. The bass is deep and the music is engaging, giving life to a sort of ballad, where, however, I expected, given the duration, more elaborate plots. “Each Manner Of Man” mixes very well the more traditional traits of their sound with Rock and Prog, with a deep bass and valuable keyboard inserts. Always nice to hear how they manage to blend multiple genres and styles, giving life to their unique sound, with songs like this that summarize their essence. “The Visit” is a soft track, with dreamy atmospheres and a soft and sometimes choral vocal, showing the more folk side of their sound. The sound plots take us back to distant times, always with the personal timbre of the band, skilled in bringing ancient sounds to the present day, as in this case. “Flying Free” is a short instrumental passage of just over 2 minutes, which retraces the Folk sounds of the previous song. A pleasant instrumental detachment, as always inserted in the right place and at the right time by the band, which offers refined sounds here. A dark arpeggio between guitar and piano and “Quicksilver Days” begins, a track with melancholy colors, short-lived but with a very intense singing. Elaborated and with excellent instrumental inserts, it captures the listener’s attention from start to finish. “We Are Everyone” begins with guitar and keyboard melodies and male and female voices that intertwine, alternating with instrumental symphonic openings. Well developed and technically of a high level, it is a very intense song full of ideas. The album “Chorale” closes with an entirely instrumental piece, alternating positive melodies and pompous symphonic openings, with strong references to classical music. A good album, where the musicians’ technique and experience are perceived, with some very intense and high-level sections. The band’s ability to mix Folk influences with Rock and Prog music makes them very particular with very personal sound traits. Those who know this band know how skilled they are in always finding the precise point of union between the two genres, as happened in this work. A very recommended listening for lovers of the sounds of the band and of Folk Prog and Rock music in general, reaching an excellent quality level. The years never seem to pass for a band that has made and continues to make music history.

Tracklist

01.Settlement5:00
02.Strange Times4:30
03.Judgement Day7:14
04.Each Manner Of Man4:28
05.The Visit4:45
06.Flying Free2:13
07.Quicksilver Days2:30
08.We Are Everyone5:08
09.Chorale3:13

Lineup

Dave Bainbridge Keyboards, Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Hammond Organ
Dave CousinsVocals, Acoustic & Electric Guitars, Electric Dulcimer
Chas CronkVocals, Bass, 12-String Guitars
Dave LambertVocals, Lead & Acoustic Guitars
Tony FernandezDrums, Percussions
With:
Cathryn CraigVocals
John FordBass
Schalk Joubert Bass

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Esoteric Recordings |Official Website|Facebook Page|Twitter|Instagram|YouTube Channel|

Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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