This is the stuff we’ve been missing! It’s been too long since Oysterband gave us their last recorded offering, a slight excuse for the pandemic I suppose, but as soon as the first notes issue from the speakers you know that you’re on familiar ground and expectation rises automatically. Welcome back lads.
The Oysters have never been shy about voicing their concerns and whilst eight years is a long time to mull things over this set of songs puts them right back into the centre of the mix. ‘Read The Sky,’ which arrives in a fabulous wraparound cover of broad sunset vistas and the stars, celebrates and berates in equal measure.
‘Born Under The Same Sun,’ speaks directly about loss of community and social decay, the change in towns and villages not for the better. “Boarded shops and boarded souls hide the emptiness inside,” that’s both buildings and people. ‘The Time Is Now,’ clocks a world which is slowly unravelling and the short sightedness of corporate greed and self-preservation which always puts off until tomorrow what needed to be done yesterday. As the sign reads “there is no Planet B!” ‘The Corner Of The Room,’ is pure nostalgia but a roaring, melodic delight at that with a jaunty hook and chunky rhythm lifting it right up there as a future concert staple. ‘Wonders Are Passing,’ is another act now urging, yet it’s a considered, slower piece full of regret and hopeful anticipation, “Treasures of earth are slipping through our fingers, Wonders are passing tonight.” Chillingly the song ends with a stark “Goodnight.” Perhaps despite all the optimism it really is too late.
‘Star Of The Sea,’ is a gentle affair – hope it’s based on fact – Ian Telfer’s tale of a misplaced flute ends with the instruments return and reflection on long ago behaviours, make this acoustic ballad as appealing as any of the rockier tracks already mentioned. But then that’s the joy of Oysterband they know how to get into your conscious with charged yet alluring material and they’ve been doing it over some sixteen albums if my counting’s right.
Now six strong, they will no doubt conjure a righteous, melodic riot of textured, rooted music on their forthcoming tour which traverses the country throughout April and May. You’d be advised not to miss them on the evidence here, they’ve created something really exciting and must be straining at the leash to hit a stage once again. Fortunately they show absolutely no sign of slowing down. ‘Read The Sky,’ continues the crusade of a real peoples’ band. Long may they run.
propermusic.com / oysterband.co.uk