Album: Diamonds On The Water
I remember standing on the rainy seafront at the Bandstand in Southsea, being told by John Jones himself that the gig was cancelled. I was maybe six years old and I was gutted! At Square Roots Promotions, the kids are raised on a healthy five-a-day diet of which the Oysters are a major part. Dad (or Ken to you guys), the head-Square-Roots-honcho, even has the One Green Hill single on green vinyl! So here we are in 2014 and it’s been seven years since the last release. Needless to say we’re huge fans down here and remained ecstatic for the arrival of the new album: Diamonds On The Water.
Simply put, this album is classic Oysterband. Expect dreamy violins, noodling guitars and the crème de la crème of vocal harmonies. Diamonds On The Water eases the listener in with this delightful trio in A Clown’s Heart, which is one of the most spirit-lifting songs I’ve ever come across! The album then presses on into a catchy, upbeat and violin-led A River Runs, I defy you to not sing along to this one on the first listen…
The title track Diamonds On The Water has a truly familiar sound, harking back to earlier Oysterband material, yet I can’t put my finger on which song it reminds me of. The Wilderness – the chronicle of an excursion into the Rocky mountains, is reminiscent of Jam Tomorrow with it’s dark sounding string-driven ‘riff’. That to me, is a sign that the Oysterband have a tried-and-tested and truly unique sound; and this is reflected in Diamonds On The Water.
As you would expect with a set of musicians as well versed as the Oysterband, there isn’t a duff song on the album. The two strongest songs (in my opinion) are probably the single Spirit Of Dust and No Ordinary Girl, but then again it’s bloomin’ hard to pick ‘the best’ tracks when you love ‘em all… Both of these feature belting choruses that no one can resist a little sing-along to. Not even that guy who stands next to you at a gig, refusing to sing even though he so desperately wants to!
So the album winds up with Like A Swimmer In The Ocean, a peaceful coda of shimmering mandolin, guitar and violin to bring Diamonds On The Water to a subtle close.
Loathe as I am to use the word ‘dreamy’ again, I have to say that for established Oysterband fans this album will seem dreamy compared to previous hard-hitting efforts such as 1995’s The Shouting End Of Life or 2007’s Meet You There. That said, I don’t mean this in a negative way. Diamonds On The Water reflects the tender side of the Oysterband in both lyrics and melody. I can’t wait to hear these songs live for sure, and there isn’t a single song on the album that wouldn’t stand proud next to an Oysters classic.
4 1/2 Stars