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The Lucky Strikes 'The Exile and The Sea' - Harbour Song

This UK quartet have made an album that is pretty much the best thing they have done to date. It follows up their previous Gabriel, Forgive My 22 Sins and it sees them slimming down with Fiddle and banjo player Jim Wilson moving to the bench. That leaves Paul Ambrose, Matthew Boucher, William Bray and David Giles to be lucky. This time out the music moves to more English folk-rock sound that at times recalls the time when bands like Fairport Convention and Trees were making such satisfying albums that then mixed seemingly opposed genres together. A point where the rock and the folk were equally balanced. 

The bass, drums, guitar, piano and fiddle mix solidly and give songs like New Avalon and The Butcher and The Sea their centre and heart. I'm assuming all the songs are written by the band as it doesn't say so on the cover (which, by the way, both this and the last sleeve are examples of good packaging design). Ballet Shoes and Vincent have a more stripped-back delivery. The voice and guitar (and lap steel) highlight how they balance the delivery between a measured approach and a more full band sound. The latter is a stand out as it builds and has more of that vintage folk-rock feel. Goldspring has a sea shanty element with the layered vocals and again highlights Ambrose's ability as lead singer.The Devil Knows Yourself with it's vocal chorus and stomping beat is another striking song that along with Ghost and the Actress reveal that the overall theme of the sea and environs is well considered.

These songs draw on traditional storytelling patterns but do so in way that is both contemporary and compelling and The Lucky Strikes deserve luck in reaching to a wider audience that may appreciate their musical endeavours.

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