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Oysterband
Meet You There
Westpark Music (www.westparkmusic.com)

In 2007, music enthusiasts watched the music industry enter into freefall. Certainly the business appears almost unrecognizable from its glory days: major corporate labels no longer are album-oriented as they scrounge about for the sure-fire hit single, and artist development is something that appears to have perished. For artists weathering the times, 'sticking to your guns' means no compromise and a continued devotion to making musical statements worth more than a tick up the singles charts. Nowadays, anyone with access to the Internet or who can create a podcast has the opportunity to contribute to and change the culture. And if you're the Oysterband, you go on creating incredible music and become the revered elder statesmen of folk-rock integrity.

With their 30th anniversary in their gunsights and their annual folk festival The Big Session coming up on its fourth season, Meet You There has the Oysterband digging their heels into another set of bracing acoustic folk rock. Fans can rejoice, as the Oysterband line-up remains unchanged: John Jones, Chopper, Lee Partis, Alan Prosser, and Ian Telfer once again prove that the Oysterband have a seamless, organic sound. All of the songs on Meet You There are originals this time around, and they further establish the Oysters as a group that will forever be at the vanguard of English singer-songwriters.

The songs have a timeless quality to them, and a warm acoustic vibe tinged with a slight 1960s essence. I could easily imagine The Band performing the Oysterband's "Bury Me Standing," and the strummed guitar leading to the pure pop-folk of "Everything Must Go" has the immediate intimacy of a coffeehouse. The lyrics to "Here Comes The Flood" are politics of-the-moment, with Jones coyly singing "I haven't prayed since God knows when/My teeth are un-American/Socialism's orphan child,/unimpressed, unreconciled/Some people think I'm crazy, but I'm not --/Here comes the flood." Yes, the Oysterband have watched the world change, but they certainly aren't ones to remain complacent, and their brand of English folk is special for how the band levels their critique wrapped in biting musical hooks.

Producer Al Scott is on board again for Meet You There, and he seems to bring out the best in the group. Witness the glistening "The Boy's Still Running," where Chopper's cello swells under the chorus. And then there's the smart, angular funk of "Someone Somewhere," a track that takes the Oysterband into a new post-punk acoustic territory. Over the entire album, there is never a bit of ground lost to the Oysterband's optimistic world view.

Given the tremendous quality of this collection of songs, I would argue that it is criminal that the Oysterband have not achieved widespread acclaim in America. The Oysterband is one of the most important folk acts of our times. You feel excited chills when Jones sings "I am the ghost of things to come" on the rolling Celtic rock of "Walking Down The Road With You." Music will live, so let the music industry rot. The decades of experienced artistry on Meet You There is worth a thousand flowers on its grave, and there is little doubt that the Oysterband will, thankfully, continue their unique musical journey. - Lee Blackstone

CD available from cdRoots http://www.cdroots.com/wp-oyster07.html The band's web site: www.oysterband.co.uk

CD available from cdRoots

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