(10 July 2011) Strawberry Fields, a rock band from Poland, began in 2008 and was founded by Wojtek Szadkowski (Collage, Satellite, Peter Pan, Travellers). Their music is a unique blend of the old and the new, of rock guitars and soft keyboards, loops and psychedelic soundscapes. But what the band and we feel is most important here is the magical voice of Robin (Marta Kniewska), their beautiful female lead singer. Read our exclusive interview with her.
The band's debut album is entitled Rivers Gone Dry (Metal Mind Productions (Poland) MMP CD 0652, 2009). With a running time of just under 50 minutes, the album's nine tracks span a broad repertoire of blues, electronic, traditional and progressive rock tracks. In addition to Wojtek Szadkowski (keyboards, drums) and Robin (vocals), the band's lineup includes: Sarhan Kubeisi (guitar); Jarek Michalski (bass). Album guest Krzysiek Palczewski (keyboards) has now joined the band. Michal Kirmuc has also joined recently as a second guitar player. Their first DVD will be released in September 2011.
Production on Strawberry Fields' album is superb with arrangements providing a perfect foundation for the singer's crystalline voice. Robin opens the album in the percussively-styled "Your Story." The power of her voice is evident from the opening moments of the track. Layers of keyboards underscore delicate the lead singer's vocal work in the 1990s mid tempo rock track "Close."
The album's statium rock Yes-allusioned "River's Gone Dry" runs just short of seven minutes. A variety of crisp and scratch percussion with dense keyboard arrangement accompany layers of vocal harmonies that back Robin's powerful and soaring lead vocal. Extended chorus passages allude to additonal artists separating the robust verses that divide the song nicely.
In sharp contrast, "Feel" is--in parts--sung atop gentle acoustic passages joined with soothing keyboard washes. The song has a robust chorus as well. The song further illustrates the diversity of the band's lead singer's extraordinary talent.
Expanding the range of the album is the electronically bluesy yet rhythmic track "Moon." Singing in higher register here, listen for Robin's precise delivery of the lyrics in this stunning track. The dance-oriented pop number "Beautiful" provides further contrast. Electric guitar excursions, crisp percussion and lush keyboards lie within the song's arrangements.
The haunting sounds of the verses in "Open Your Eyes" are created from the multilayered vocals and lush keyboards. A soaring electric guitar adds depth to the arrangement. Further layers in the vocal laden choruses are more robust and rock with the power of electric guitars. This dramatic track must be outstanding to see live--we are told that it will be included on the forthcoming DVD.
"Maybe" is a percussive rock track with metal-edged guitar excursions dominating the arrangements. Here Robin's vocals include whispered and contrasting soaring lyrical portions of the number. Instrumental only passages are well played and illustrate the virtuosity of the band members.
The album concludes with the enigmatic sounds of "Flow." Electronics dominate the arrangements of this Strawberry Fields standout ballad come rock number with bright electric guitar contrasting Robin's crystalline vocal delivery. The multilayered and harmonious chorus is especially catchy. Listen for the stunning guitar solos in the instrumental breaks.
Strawberry Fields' Rivers Gone Dry is a perfect album for the lovers of such bands as Goldfrapp, Portishead or Massive Attack and in spots Yes and Asia. Robin's voice will attract fans of progressive rock's greatest female singers, especially Christina Booth (Magenta) and Annie Haslam (Renaissance). Listen for strong pop melodies and a tiny bit of Enya and Pink Floyd too.