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Strawbs - Déjà Fou CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.16 | 32 ratings

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4 stars Deja Fou is the first album of all new material by Strawbs in a decade, and it's nice to see that the boys haven't lost their edge.

Fans of Stawbs will undoubtedly know that the band had undergone many personnel changes over the years. Deja Fou sees a reunion of the 1974-75 line up that recorded Hero and Heroine and Ghosts. This is also the line-up that recently toured the US and Canada.

The album itself is a combination of style with some several songs being largely acoustic, and other songs more electric and rocking. Overall, the album works well. However, the album lacks the characteristically strong keyboard work that Strawbs were known for. (Hawken doesn't appear on several of the acoustic tracks, and on the others, I found the keyboard work more subdued than what we've heard in the past from this band.).

Stylistically, the album represents a definate development of David Cousins' and Strawbs' style. Several songs paint a picture and create a mood with music and lyrics and are amongst their strongest pieces. Other songs songs are in the style that fans have seen in the recent Acosutic album (Baroque and Roll) as well as David Cousins' recent collaberation with Rick Wakeman (Hummingbird)

The first two tracks on the album, Riviera Del Flori (Cousins/Lambert) and Under A Cloudless Sky (Cousins) are classic Strawbs Prog music. They are really one work (a la 'Remembering/That Was You and I (when we were Young) from Ghosts). The song has a feel that makes one feel as if one were floating through the sky on an afternoon. Similarly, Sunday Morning (Cousins/Lambert) also has this dreamy quality, and painting a perfect picture with the words and music giving you a feel of a lazy Sunday Morning. A third song where the music and words paint a picture is this Barren Land (Cousins/Lambert), which starts out acoustically, then builds to a crescendo powerfully punctuating the point of the song. This song has a lot of power, and after listening to the album a few times is my personal favorite song on the album.

Face Down in the Well is a David Cousins composition that the Acoustic Strawbs have been playing in concert for the last year. This version adds some strings, and fills out the melody, this track is the kind of ballad that we've come to expect from David Cousins. On a Night Like This (also played by the Acoustic band in concert, written by David Cousins) is a jaunty tune with a latin beat and reminiscent of La Bamba in the beginning -- (who'd have thought it!!). If there's a single from the album, this may be it. On listining to this and others, I detect a spanish/latin influence on Cousin's songwriting that was not present in his earlier work.

If and Here Today Gone Tomorrow (both Cousins) are further acoustic numbers. Both are romantic ballads.

Cold Steel, a David Lambert song takes the album in a different direction -- this a Rock song, pure and simple -- if the band had more popularity, I could see this song receiving a lot of air play. Apart from This Barren Land, it's my second favorite song on the album. When the Lights Came On, is a second David Lambert song, which starts acoustically (with a riff that seems to be inspired by Stairway to Heaven), building throughout.

Russian Front, credited to Cousins, Lambert, Cronk and Hawken, gives each member of the band the opportunity to show their musical prowess, as accompanied by bittersweet lyrics telling a story of life in communist Russia.

The final song NRG, is a melange of middle eastern sounding music, chanting lyrics and recorded street noises. In many ways this song is the most provocative on the album, marking a complete divergance from any Strawbs song that comes to memory. I suspect many die-hard fans will consider this song to be the worst on the album. I confess, I can't get the music out of my head, which I suppose says something.

Overall, Deja Fou is a strong album, with enough familiar for Strawbs fans to be able to welcome back old friends. However, the album also shows the evolution in style and innovation necessary to make it a consistently interesting.

| 4/5 |


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