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Dave Cousins - The Boy In The Sailor Suit CD (album) cover

THE BOY IN THE SAILOR SUIT

Dave Cousins

 

Prog Folk

2.59 | 4 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars The success of Witchwood Media in issuing Strawbs-related product, as well as some outside artists, has allowed Dave Cousins and Company greater artistic freedom than ever. Oddly enough, those of us with a decades old relationship with the band's music might sometimes pine for classic Strawbs product as dictated by those big evil record companies - a little less self indulgence please!

What "Boy in the Sailor Suit" really drives home is Dave Cousins' eclectic tastes that include a lot more old fashioned country-ish swing and flat out hard rock than I would have expected or wanted. "Mellow Moon" and "Wish you were Here" harken back to everyone's favourite track ...NOT... from Deep Cuts, "Wasting my Time Thinking of You", while there seem few previous parallels to "Mother Luck" (other than Dylan's "Slow Train Coming") or "Hellfire Blues", which banish any pretense of melodic storytelling skill that prevailed even on the 1972 solo album's heaviest song, "The Actor". Even the presence of violins cannot save a consummately trashy blues number.

Yet all is not lost, far from it. For instance, "Never Take Sweets from a Stranger" exploits Ian Cutler's fiddle and Miller Anderson's guitars as foil for one of Cousins' more compelling narratives, replete with his beyond suggestive sexual references. The beginning has more than a passing similarity to a Dave Lambert penned classic from 1977, "Heartbreaker". The title cut is sheer poetry in such a fashion as to wipe out any memory of the medium - only the message remains. "Calling out my name", "Lonely Days Lonely Nights" and "Bringing in the Harvest" are the most Strawbs like in their combination of pop, folk and prog, and utilize a rich palate of moods. "Skip to My Lou" seems to tip the hat in the direction of equally venerable cousins Fairport Convention, with a riff that is strongly redolent of "Matty Groves".

Worth noting is that, with proper production and material, Cousins' voice holds up well after all these years. He needs to avoid hitting those ultra-low notes frequented by "Mellow Moon" and give up on producing a convincing hard rock song. More organic in feel than the Cousins and Conrad release and far more retro and diverse than the Strawbs last studio release, "Deja Fou", this boy sails well enough to suit old and new fans alike, even if it probably won't blow them offshore.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |

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