‘Diamonds On The Water’ - Oysterband - soak it up, every word, every note(December 09, 2013)
Deliberate on the mainstays of this country's electric folk, folk rock or folk punk and it’s a certainty that Oysterband will be up there with the best-of-the-best. Loud, brash, aware, involved, opinionated – all the words I’ve heard describing their music, yet these seem to mellow when set against their new studio album of original songs, ‘Diamonds On The Water’, released on 17 February 2014 on Navigator Records. Oysterband fans are going to soak it up, every word and every note.
There's evidence of a slightly more mellifluous, melodious touch to these songs, some of the angry angst may have toned down a mite, the political seething given way to more personal reflection – whatever the changes, what’s ‘new’ remains characteristically Oysterband. The pedigree is there, perhaps only the depth and ripeness have increased - ‘Diamonds On The Water’ will become a classic Oysters album.
As the lead track ‘A Clown’s Heart’ sets off, immediately you’re on familiar ground - hook rich, inspiring melody, concentrated chorus and eminently identifiable lead vocal. This song appears more than a touch autobiographical even if it’s unintentional – it brought that feeling to me anyway. There’s a strong sense of reflection that runs through this album, it revisits through ‘Spirit of Dust’ - highly melodic, great harmonies and overflowing with pure emotion, and within the title track, ‘Diamonds on the Water’ enriched with its brass accents.
There’s a familiar drive and proclamation in ‘A River Runs’ (incidentally co-written by Ray Cooper as his last musical contribution to the band) the same momentum persists through the faintly ominous ‘Palace Of Memory’ and the emotion and sincerity of ‘Call You Friend’. Then of course there’s the delicious ‘No Ordinary Girl’ – lyrics to evoke, a message that invokes and a melody you’ll only resist if you’re dead.
Oysterband still holds the stalwarts John Jones (melodeon, lead vocals) Alan Prosser (guitars, viola, vocals) and Ian Telfer (fiddle, concertina, vocals), there’s also Dil Davies (drums) and Al Scott (bass). With occasional contributions either on the album, on tour or both, from Adrian Oxaal, Rowan Godel, Lindsey Oliver, Lee Partis and the brass section of Pete Davison, Eira Owen and Sarah Leeves.
‘Diamonds On The Water’ and tour dates: www.oysterband.co.uk
Reviewer: Tim Carroll