Friday, March 28, 2008

Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind by Vashti Bunyan

Review by guest hipster: PWC

Several years ago, I had the discreet pleasure of seeing Vashti Bunyan play in a large, hushed auditorium nestled in the hills overlooking Los Angeles. She sang in whispers, and spoke in quiet tones – coming across as your kindly, possibly magical aunt who sometimes stares off into the distance when somebody mentions the year 1967. She gently spoke to us of fragments of years past, of her journey into the Hebridean Isles, of lost love and a broken heart. [Insert rather obvious descriptions of a metaphorical grandmothering of the freak-folk movement, of her adopted gypsy son Devendra, or her elfin granddaughter Joanna].

Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind represents a collection of recordings from the 1960s, lost documents of a career that could have been. The first disc represents a collection of singles (2 released, 3 unreleased) and demos from the mid 60s. Disc Two is an intimate assemblage of home recorded demos. The singles collected on the first Disc come across as more obviously dated, the folk-rock production on some of the songs ("Coldest Night of the Year") is "fun" but somewhat regrettable. Then again, I don’t like the production on the first two Nick Drake albums either.

The barebones acoustic songs on Disc One, and all of those on Disc Two, represent what I adore about Vashti Bunyan – the hushed intimacy, the gorgeous voice, thin and fragile as fine china. The spoken introductions for songs on Disc Two – a very earnest sounding voice intoning "Go Before the Dawn" with slight reverb, impart the sense of a serious, thin and slightly nervous girl with long dark hair sitting alone in a vast room with a tape recorder wedged between her knees. The quality of all the songs is high, and the tape hiss and slight distortions along the way add to the air of unearthed artifacts from a forgotten pasts. Perhaps if Vashti Bunyan’s career had not been resuscitated by the folk revival, these might be the dusty reel-to-reel tapes you find in your aunt’s attic and share with a few friends as a secret reminder of lost history.

mp3: "I Want To Be Alone by Vashti Bunyan

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