The Strawbs’ 2021 release ‘Settlement’ featured some fine music from the veteran musicians. Decades into their journey, it was possible for fans to experience Dave Lambert channelling Ant Phillips via some fine acoustic work, and moments where floaty, prog-ish arrangements lent the best material a thoughtful quality that really suited the band. Unfortunately, most of the album was rendered borderline unlistenable due to terrible vocals from Strawbs main man Dave Cousins. At best, he sounded like a ravaged old folkie – his voice worn by the years of musical storytelling; at worst, an asthmatic goblin, gargling with intent to sabotage the work laid down by his musical cohorts. It was the kind of album that all but the most diehard of Strawbs fans would spin three times and move on.
Like any band with a long history, Strawbs have gone through many changes over the decades. Musicians have come and gone; they’ve seen dozens of members come and go since their inception in 1964 – including legends Rick Wakeman, Sandy Denny and Curved Air’s Sonja Kristina – with each one bringing something different to the band. Through it all, Dave Cousins has been there to steer the ship. In fact, aside from very occasional silences, Strawbs have always existed in one form or other even though a lot of people would believe they threw in the towel some time during the mid 70s.