The Strawbs

Déjà Fou

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Déjà Fou offers the kind of folk-rock upon which the Strawbs had made their reputation for decades prior to this 2004 release: wistful songs with a strong narrative thread, usually from the pen of Dave Cousins (though Dave Lambert writes and co-writes a few songs). In relatively olden days, like the 1960s and 1970s, Cousins sometimes sounded like a young man taking on the persona of a world-weary older observer. Now he is that older (or at least late-middle-aged) wizened man, having grown into that tone so that it sounds less affected in some respects, though the voice has lost some depth in texture. The material's amiable enough, though there's a perhaps inevitable faded and subdued quality in comparison with their earlier days. Robert Kirby, most famous for his work with Nick Drake, adds some appropriately understated, bittersweet grandeur with his string arrangements. "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" oddly echoes some of David Bowie's early piano-based ballads, in which that singer would sometimes affect a similarly resigned, wise-beyond-his-years mood. The sporadic attempts to rock out are less successful and more strained, as when a vague Latin "dancing underneath the stars" vibe is tried out for "On a Night Like This" (in fact, references to the sky and the stars bounce around a few of the songs).

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