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Deep Dark Ocean

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Album Review

First of all, the question must be asked; is John Jones sounding more like Justin Hayward everyday? Moody Blues fans will say "John who?" and Oysterband fans will want to wallop me. Preposterous as it may seem, check out the ending of the chorus to "Milford Haven." It's been alleged that Oysterband has toned it down with this record. Perhaps slightly. However, there's certainly no shortage of their usual brilliant melodies and thought-provoking lyrics. Their edgy folk-rock arrangements and superb musicianship remain solidly in tact. As expected, a delectable mix of violins, concertinas, mandolins, cello and melodeon are adroitly molded into appealing folk-pop ditties and alternative rockers. The only aspect of Deep Dark Ocean that sets it apart from earlier recordings is not necessarily a matter of going soft or toning down. It seems that Oysterband has simply contracted the older but wiser disease. They've preached to the choir long enough. Now a more restrained approach is preferred to convey their concerns. No, the world is not particularly rosy in their eyes. In fact, some challenging issues are confronted like the dangers involved with a violence-prone, emotionally-troubled loved one ("Little Brother"), the severing of a lousy relationship ("Milford Haven") or the stronghold that alcohol, bitterness and other vices can possess. Songwriters Jones, Alan Prosser and Ian Telfer are less likely to heap all of the blame of societal ills on their political foes and more apt to chalk it up to the hand one is dealt and how that hand is ultimately played. "Native Son" encapsulates both the disenchantment and hope they have for England - "I said get real, I didn't say good-bye-It was all for love the crazy things I've done. Remember me I'm still your native son."


Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Oysterband (or the Oyster Band, as they used to be called) are one of the few outfits still burning with the fire of punk, but who manage to combine it with the ideals and knowledge of English folk music -- a balancing act they've made into a fine art over the years. And they have deep roots in the U.K. folk scene, emerging from both the Whitstable Oyster Co. Ceilidh Band, which formed in 1975, and Fiddler's Dram, a group put together in 1973 by Dave Arbus, whose fiddle work has graced releases by...
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Deep Dark Ocean, Oysterband
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