Dave Cousins

Boy in the Sailor Suit

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Dave Cousins offers a characteristic set of versatile folk-rock on The Boy in the Sailor Set, backed by the Blue Angel Orchestra. It's not a Strawbs album, but it shares similarities with many of the records he's recorded as leader of that group. The songs are on the somber storytelling side; the rock is sometimes harder than it is in most British folk-rock efforts; and Cousins' foggy voice exudes wary, and sometimes weary, stoicism and caution. Typical of his twists is the scenario laid out in "Never Take Sweets from a Stranger," where a steamy and sudden sexual liaison ends when his paramour becomes the victim of a hit-and-run accident, though it doesn't sound as contrived on record as it might on paper. When not going for a full-bodied rock sound, Cousins is capable of more pensive acoustic stuff with a heavier rural British folk and country flavor, Ian Cutler's fiddle proving a crucial ingredient on such outings. Sometimes he ventures near a more bludgeoning hard rock sound, which is less likable and effective, even building off a "Green Onions"-like riff on "Hellfire Blues." There aren't all that many records around where the leader can sound both like a modern sea shanty singer and a guy with more mainstream board-strutting chunky rock aspirations. But this is one of them, and it's not the only such thing Cousins has done.

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