I get some pretty weird CDs to review, but Vashti Bunyan’s story and music seem almost not of this earth.
After connecting with Rolling Stones manager and legendary producer Andrew Loog Oldham, Vashti was given a Jagger-Richard song to record and flash-hyped as “the new Marianne Faithfull” in 1965. When her music career didn’t take off, she did – across England and Scotland to the Hebrides with a few friendly animals, who figure importantly in these songs written during her peripatetic years and recorded in 1969. Accompanying herself on guitar and joined by members of the Incredible String Band and Fairport Convention, her soft, affectless voice takes British folk conventions and flies them off to some other planet where everything is soft, childlike and twee (look it up, my fellow Americans).
She certainly has an affinity with Fairport Convention, Pentangle and the other British folk revival bands. But because of her music’s spacy quality, the first comparisons I thought of were Nick Drake and Donovan. So, for those interested in the British folk revival period, Nick Drake or Devendra Banhart fans, and collectors of interesting, lost musical artifacts, this reissue should be right up your alley. It doesn’t rock, but it sure rolls. Though her songs used old forms, Vashti Bunyan was “new age” before there was such a term or genre.