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Strawbs - Nomadness CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

2.52 | 76 ratings

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2 stars How the mighty have fallen. But did they jump or were they pushed?

After the brilliant Ghosts album, Dave Cousins and co., sans a permanent keyboard player this time around as the great John Hawken jumped ship, put out a definitively non prog offering with Nomadness. Paring down the songs away from their prog epics, this group of short hard rockers, along with a few ballads, are some of the worst songs that the Strawbs ever committed to tape. Putting aside the group's move to more radio friendly mid 70's fare, the problem with a majority of these songs is their quality. Guitarist and main songwriter Cousins could write great short up tempo rock songs as evidenced by the songs "Lay Down" and "Lemon Pie" that the group recorded on past albums, so that was the problem? A lack of muse and motivation seems to be the cause. "To Be Free" is actually good as to conveying a sense of neurotic craziness with it's almost rap like run on stream of consciousness lyrics and is one for the group's oddball list. But one of the better ones. However, the more straight forward Bad Company-like rockers "Little Sleepy" (written and sung by lead guitarist Dave Lambert), "Back on The Farm" and "Tokyo Rosie" lack conviction and feel like deliberate attempts at a song style. Something that the Strawbs cared little about in the past as the group always threw their songs at the wall to see what would stick. The ballads fare a bit better with the reflective "Golden Salamander" and the ulta reflective "Hanging In The Gallery" being the some of Cousin's best. The album ends on a high note with the grandiose and dramatic "The Promised Land", penned by bassist Chas Cronk, which shows that heavy rockers need not be devoid of grandeur and drama. Something sorely lacking in the rest of the album's rockers.

Why Cousins was so off his muse for this batch of songs is anybody's guess. But a look at the album's cover photo shows a painfully thin Cousins who was never known for being anything other than chubby. Cousins always claimed that he was ill at the time he wrote and recorded most of the songs for Nomadness. So, the song quality may have been out of his control, but the musical direction of the Strawbs certainly was. So, did the Strawbs jump or were they pushed? Unfortunately, it seems it that it was a case of both.

SteveG | 2/5 |


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