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Strawberry Fields - Rivers Gone Dry CD (album) cover

RIVERS GONE DRY

Strawberry Fields

 

Prog Related

4.02 | 22 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars You know I know when it's a dream

Strawberry Fields is a project initiated by Wojtek Szadkowski, drummer with Polish neo-prog band Satellite, and also with their predecessors Collage. While the other members of Satellite also donate their skills to the album, it is the vocals of Szadkowski's prodigy Robin (Marta Kniewska) which are very much the focus of this venture. Fans of Satellite and Collage should therefore be aware when sampling the delights of Strawberry Fields that Rivers gone dry is very different to the output of those bands.

Szadkowski and Kniewska clearly bonded immediately, writing all the material here. Szadkowski is responsible for the music throughout, while Kniewska writes all the lyrics (in English), bar the occasional contribution on a couple of songs by Wojtek. Astonishingly given the confidence and quality of her work, the album marks Robin's debut both as a singer and a lyricist. Rivers gone dry consists of 9 tracks, running to around 50 minutes in total, and while we should not expect any Satellite style epics, a couple of the tracks run to around 7 minutes.

The publicity for the album compares Strawberry Fields to bands such as Goldfrapp, Portishead, Massive Attack and The Gathering. Other legitimate comparison might be with their stablemates, (Clive's Nolan's) Caamora and with the Cranberries.

The album opens with Your story a song which blends sparse verses, which allow space for Robin to display her vocal prowess, with powerful full on choruses. The track features some fine lead guitar from Sarhan Kubeisi. The haunting Close which follows combines delightful keyboard sounds with a majestic vocal melody. The choruses here up the power even further, the slightly distorted vocals being driven by some great guitar riffs. This track in particular is very reminiscent of some of the best work of The Cranberries (think of songs such as Promises).

The title track is a moodier number with a driving undercurrent and fine keyboard swathes. The 7 minute running time sees the song being allowed to fully develop against a hypnotic vocal refrain. Fool opens with a brief acoustic passage leading to a slower power ballad. Once again, the extend guitar interlude is a highlight of the song.

Moon takes things down a notch with a gentler shuffle through a slightly jazzy piece of heavy smooth, allowing Robin to show yet another string to her bow. Beautiful maintains the softer mood, but in a lighter, more harmonious piece of pop rock, the similarity here being more towards the Corrs perhaps. Open your eyes is distinguished by an appealing multi-part vocal arrangement, the track moving between gentle verses and loud guitar driven choruses, once again of the Cranberries type. Maybe continues in the power pop style, the fine instrumentation differentiating the song from other similar styles of pop.

The album closes with its longest track, the 7½ minute Flow. The ambitions for this piece are made clear from the outset with a synth chorale burst backed by atmospheric keyboards. The sang draws in the various sounds and influences which come through throughout the album; the song's arrangement is particularly impressive here.

Rivers gone dry is a fine example of what happens when a selection of fine prog musicians decide to make something more accessible while ensuring they do not make compromises when it comes to quality (bands such as Asia spring to mind in this respect). This is an album of highly melodic, very enjoyable songs which benefit from fine arrangements and top quality musicianship. Special mention needs to be made of the contribution made by vocalist Robin, who belies her lack of experience both with her singing and her lyric writing. A quality album.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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