Vashti Bunyan -‘Heartleap.’ (FatCat)
The story of how Vashti Bunyan went from Andrew Loog Oldham protegee to cult folkie to highly regarded singer has been told many times. But it’s worth reflecting that without the substance of the music to back it up – or indeed that voice – the rebirth that saw a mere thirty five years between her debut and sophomore albums would not have happened.
This time round, it’s just been nine years since Lookaftering. Now nearly seventy, the voice is still a thing of wonder in itself, as seemingly untouched by the years as many artists younger than hers find themselves struggling to keep theirs. It’s delicate, angelic and yet not fragile. Arguably she sounds even better than on the sides she cut in the sixties, now nearly fifty years ago (and gathered on the compilation Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind). And on tracks as opener ‘Across The Water’ or ‘Mother’ it’s the deceptive simplicity of the arrangements that highlight her talent, not seeking to smother or bolster, but simply to show the beauty of these songs.
There may be those who argue that this is not a wildly different album to her previous two. This is to miss the point spectacularly. It’s a continuation of her musical journey. And with the likes of Leonard Cohen showing that you can still be recording in your eighties, let us hope that Vashti Bunyan will see fit to share more music with us. In her own time…
Heartleap is out now on Fat Cat.