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Vashti Bunyan - Lookaftering

  by Anthony Dhanendran

published: 19 / 10 / 2005



Vashti Bunyan - Lookaftering
Label: Fat Cat Records
Format: CD

intro

Remarkable second album from long-lost folk artist Vashti Bunyan, which marks her return after a 35 year absence from the music inudstry


Not many long-lost artists get the chance to be critically re-appraised during their own lifetimes. For Nick Drake, for example, the revival didn’t occur in earnest until long after Drake was dead. Vashti Bunyan, on the other hand, has just released her second album, 35 years after her first. 'Lookaftering' is the second chapter in what is technically, then, a career that spans five decades. After the relative lack of success of her first album, 'Diamond Day', however, Bunyan grew disillusioned with the business of recording music, and went to live in the countryside and to raise both children and animals. Recently a new generation of artists, led by anti-folkies Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart, has been evangelizing for Bunyan, to the point where she was coaxed back into the studio to record 'Lookaftering'. It’s a remarkable piece of music. Bunyan’s voice is still intact and still sounds fantastic. It floats lightly over these 11 songs, touching down here and there. While it’s not quite as folky as might be expected given her history, it still fits in with the music on 'Diamond Day'. This album could just as easily have been recorded in 1972 or even 1872, but that’s not to say it’s anachronistic. Bunyan’s songwriting touch has not deserted her, and she draws more on the English folk tradition of the previous centuries than on the electric folk music of the 1960s and 1970s. It’s clear that she knows what she’s doing, even after all this time. 'Lookaftering' evokes some of the earliest experiments in resurrecting English folk music by the folk revival artists – such as Fairport Convention – in the 1950's and 1960's. It’s almost as though Bunyan has decided to go back to her roots and start all over again. Certainly, the adjective that springs to mind is wistful – and while this album does wistful well, it’s not all the misty-eyed look back into the past that that might suggest. The songs, while they do not draw particularly on the music of the last 30 years, are of their time in that they evoke a mental picture of Bunyan, in a remote countryside hideaway, writing them now. Max Richter's production, too, has a light touch all the way through, as it did on the Joe Boyd-produced 'Diamond Day'. The gentle accompaniment of guitar, piano, flute or harp is all that’s needed for Bunyan’s voice, both acoustically and lyrically, to shine through, and that’s all that it is given. The result is warm and inviting, and although it takes a couple of listens to start picking up on the nuances – there are no instant hits to be found here – it rewards the listener each time. If there’s a criticism to be made, it’s that these songs could never hope to live up to the hype – implied or otherwise – generated by an artist’s return after a 35-year absence from the music industry, and that by its nature is not a criticism of Vashti Bunyan. But even if it doesn’t quite hit the highs of 'Diamond Day', 'Lookaftering' is still a beautiful album. There are no stand-out tracks here, because it’s not that kind of album, and just because it’s so hard to pick between the various songs. The album, as a whole, is something to savour – preferably on a long, dark, winter night in front of a fire. “If I were to go away, would you follow me to the ends of the earth?” she asks on 'If I Were'. We would.



Track Listing:-
1 Lately
2 Here Before
3 Wayward
4 Hidden
5 Against The Sky
6 Turning Backs
7 If I Were
8 Same But Different
9 Brother
10 Feet Of Clay
11 Wayward Hum


Band Links:-
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vashti-Bunyan/262692210429074


Label Links:-
http://www.fat-cat.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/FatCatRecords
http://fatcat-records.tumblr.com/
https://www.youtube.com/fatcatrecords
https://twitter.com/FatCatRecords



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