For a respectable and eventful 38 years, Oysterband have graced the British folk scene with their iconic mix of electronic, punk and traditional folk that so defines their sound.
With numerous prestigious awards and television appearances under their belt, it is fair to say that Oysterband have helped to shape and define the British folk scene as we now know it. Few folk enthusiasts, both new and old, will have managed to avoid falling upon the band’s work.
Ever comfortably bordering the folk and pop worlds, Oysterband have played at Glastonbury as well as popular folk festivals. Their new album Diamonds On The Water is their first collection of original material in seven years.
On A Clown’s Heart, the use of both female & male vocal harmonies give a layer of lightness to the rugged depth of this smooth and rhythmic track. This song showcases Jones’ clear and stunning lead vocals at its very best. Quick-paced and catchy, the truly excellent and melodic song.
A River Runs is one of the highlights of the album and demonstrates that the band have lost none of their musical knack or stylistic significance over their song-writing hiatus.
Spirit Of Dust gives itself as a simple song with fewer layers but no less affective than the other tracks. Along with the strumming rhythm and simple melody of Like A Swimmer In The Ocean, the song enhances the traditional elements of the album and beautifully balances out the more pop-rock sound of some of the other songs.
As gentle and lulling as its namesake suggests, Lay Your Dreams Down Gently features the violin and a duet of male and female vocals that compliment each other to a very pleasing effect.
The title track Diamonds On The Water is a high spirited and punchy track carried subtly by the accordion and demonstrating Jones’ soaring vocal abilities.
Similarly, the upbeat and catchy Call You Friend demonstrates the quick and intricate guitar work that gives a more harmonious effect and greater depth to the song. This song also features brass instrumentation, which may sound a little unusual for the genre but adds interesting detail to the track.
Another particularly outstanding track on the album is The Wilderness, which combines the sweetness and emotive melodies of the violin and accordion with the roughness of the drums and guitar. A little melancholy and once again featuring the band’s stylistic vocal harmonies, this song is especially easy on the ear.
In Steal Away, Jones’ deep voice stands out as the primary feature of the song. This is another song with a slightly blues rhythm to it yet with the most traditional-sounding vocal melody and lyrics. With a beautiful and heart-wrenching chorus, this song is another that stands out on the album.
Once I Had A Sweetheart is a slow, melodic song with a hint of the emotional weight of a blues song. This traditional song is given a slightly ethereal effect with the use of the symbols. The sad and beautiful track features simple yet effective melodies from the guitar.
Diamonds In The Water seems to tie in all of the different elements that define Oysterband. The band has lost none of its integrity, none of its history and none of its typical sound.
Yet the consistent use of harmonies, cleverly interwoven melodies, punchy guitar and drum work and catchy vocal lines create an album that sounds well balanced and contemporary.
The best of the old and the subtle integration of the new sounds and styles fit the band very well and give a variety of songs that would more than satisfy loyal fans, and capture the interest of the new.Emily Bright
Released by Navigator Records February 17th 2014
1. A Clown’s Heart
2. A River Runs
3. Spirit Of Dust
4. Lay Your Dreams Down Gently
5. Diamonds On The Water
6. The Wilderness
7. Palace Of Memory
8. Once I Had A Sweetheart
9. No Ordinary Girl
10. Call You Friend
11. Steal Away
12. Like A Swimmer In The Ocean