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Vashti Bunyan: Lookaftering

Vashti Bunyan: Lookaftering

Release Date:2005

By John Duffy | Posted 12/21/2005

Nick Drake never sold enough copies of the three albums he recorded in his lifetime to pay the recording costs of the first. But the tale of his Island label mate folk singer Vashti Bunyan makes Drake’s time on Earth the epitome of fame. Bunyan’s one LP, Just Another Diamond Day, sank without a trace upon release in 1970. Then she, too, simply vanished. Until last year, that is, when a friend of Bunyan’s internet search revealed that a small cult had formed around Diamond Day, which was rereleased to warm reception. Lookaftering ends her 35-years hiatus.

As anyone who’s heard Diamond Day might expect, Bunyan’s new CD is a quiet, meditative work recalling the best moments of her former contemporaries: Pentangle, Lindisfarne, Incredible String Band, Sandy Denny, Fairport Convention. Modern touches creep in here and there, most notably backward loops of ghostly voices and guitar that skew the traditional feel of “Here Before.” Orchestration that includes chimes, recorders, harp, and wine glasses waltzing alongside her whispering voice is for the most part well-placed but may sound like dated Renaissance fetish to cynical ears.

An album trying to catch up with 35 years of musical history all at once, however, would be far too great a gap for anyone to traverse. Lookaftering serves its purpose perfectly, showing that Bunyan can still write lovely, feathery, wintry songs and sing them in a voice that, even if starting to show its mileage, remains as delicate as porcelain. What she does next will be her real test.

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