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Cousins & Conrad - High Seas CD (album) cover


Cousins & Conrad


Symphonic Prog

2.72 | 10 ratings

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3 stars This collaboration between Strawbs' driving force for the last 40 years and one of Germany's successful guitarists is a mixed bag with the expectant mixed results. The duo set out to make a progressive rock album but it generally lacks a theme and a sense of immediacy, while nonetheless containing some fine material, and some of Cousins' strongest vocals in recent years.

The album is best when it lets Dave Cousins ply his more prog oriented vocal styles, and where the acoustic and electric come together to temper the preponderance of synthesizers and programmed drums. The opener "A Call to Action" is a hard hitter indeed, with a lengthy and spatial acoustic guitar opener in which the keys slowly swell, followed by a truly dramatic vocal performance in which Dave tells us what is seriously wrong with the world in a way that sounds far more desperate than preachy. Not since "New World" can I remember Mr Cousins being quite so emphatic, quite so effectively. But his understated side is just as predominant, the yang to his ying, no better displayed than on my personal favourite, "The Moon and Stars", with sublime backing from Conrad on synths and a highly infectious melody, and most original among Cousins' works. Other highlights include the requisite Cousins' ballad "the Rose" and the poignant "Deep in the Darkest Night", augmented by the rolling keys of Rick Wakeman. "Haiku" utilizes spoken verses and banjo to dreamy romantic effect, also breaking new ground.

But there are a few stinkers that need to be programmed out - the languid "Deep Inside" and the sentimentally poppy "My oh My My" both do little to advance the cause, but the album's strengths make it a worthwhile purchase for most of us.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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