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Grumblewood - Stories of Strangers CD (album) cover

STORIES OF STRANGERS

Grumblewood

 

Prog Folk

3.58 | 14 ratings

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BrufordFreak
3 stars This collaboration of some mature folk rockers will entice lovers of the old stuff of bands like Horslips, Jethro Tull and even Uriah Heep.

1. "My Fair Lady" (7:30) good folk rock sound with fairly simple structure and performances (especially from bass and flute) and passable vocals. The second, almost-parenthetical section, beginning at 4:50, is great--very HORSLIPS-like. The sea-shanty section in the seventh minute, too. (13/15)

2. "Picturesque Postcard" (4:42) though mandolin and acoustic guitar and pacing giving this a kind of CARAVAN and MAGIC BUS feel, the song drifts cleanly onto the tracks of JTULL paths during the heavier (electrified) chorus sections. Nothing new or too exciting here. (8.25/10)

3. "Castaways" (5:17) again, I am distracted by hearing so much of other bands in the Grumblewood sound: MAGIC BUS, CARAVAN, JETHRO TULL, HORSLIPS, and even THE ANIMALS in this one. Lead singer Gav Bromfield tries to be powerful and emotional, but it just doesn't feel authentic. (8.25/10)

4. "Fives & Nines" (4:35) The compositions and instrumentation are competent but lack flair and flourish (except, perhaps, the drummer's cymbal work). Even the flute is too tight and conservative. (8.5/10)

5. "The Sheriff Rides" (6:02) feels/sounds like a fairly sedate and conservative rehashing of an old folk song--though the frail lead vocal in the verse sections is, to my mind, the most effective of the album. I like bass being front and center but I'm not feeling the connection of his lines to the subject matter. The drums are dull and the guitar work is totally supplemental. The chorus sections weaken the song considerable. I love the subtle "cave"-like background vocals lurking in the background like ghosts--very cool. I find myself wondering what this song would sound like without any bass or drums! (8.5/10)

6. "Ex Memoriam" (3:07) More and more I'm hearing the standard blues-rock chord structures of URIAH HEEP in these songs. Sounds like a Jethro Tull rehearsal. (8.25/10)

7. "The Minstrel" (8:00) More URIAH HEEP construction with a great deal of VAN MORRISON flair. This song is by far the most adventurous and polished song on the album. As it ventures into the meat of the song--the chorus and instrumental section--there is far more of a JETHRO TULL force on exhibit. But then it turns all VAN MORRISON. The bass holds down the rhythm and flow, the guitars and drums do Van Morrison-like jazz-scatting around, and the flutes and vocals provide some nice melodic threads into the overall weave. The vocal after this actually reminds me of a cross between ERIC BURDEN and Magic Bus's PAUL EVANS. Easily the best song on the album. (13.5/15)

8. "Stories of Strangers" (5:27) reminds me of a Colin Tench or Guy Manning song--though still retaining the vocal strains and stylings of Eric Burdon. The song drags a little--like a C&W ballad or song by THE BAND. During the mandolin solo in the middle it sounds like everyone wants to launch into a rolicking uptempo jam, but just can't figure out how to do it. The entrance of electric guitar power chords helps to initiate the move--and this pace feels much more appropriate for this palette of instruments. Even when the background vocalist-supported vocal returns, this is a much better pace, though still not perfect. It just feels, with repeated listens, that this song could have used a lot more practice and polishing--so that all of the band members could feel confident enough to add little ideosyncracies of personality. (8.25/10)

Total Time 44:40

Overall, the reverbed and often doubled-up vocals of lead vocalist Gav Bromfield are just not strong or emotive enough to carry this band into the realms of top-tiered Prog Folk sound.

B-/low four stars; recommended for you to try for yourself but it is my opinion that if this album "rocks your world" then you haven't heard enough early Jethro Tull, Horslips, Van Morrison, or Uriah Heep.

BrufordFreak | 3/5 |

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