Vashti Bunyan: Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind

By: Dennis Cook

Long revered for her 1970 album Just Another Diamond Day, on whose strength a small but fiercely dedicated cult has arisen, Vashti Bunyan is an enchanting, thoughtful singer-songwriter that's wrongfully been painted as a fringe figure and earth mama to the "freak folk" scene. But, if you push aside these glosses and actually listen to her music what you'll find is something tender but also eager to engage. Like her champions Devendra Banhart and Vetiver (who've toured as her backing band), Bunyan is a populist that's just slightly, wonderfully out of step with mainstream tastes. She says, "I was never a folksinger - although I may have written some folk-inspired songs. I was always a lover of pop music and my greatest dream was to break into the charts as a girl with a guitar and a sad little love song." Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind: Singles and Demos 1964 to 1967 (Dicristina Stair) is chock full of that dreamy stuff.

This double disc collection rounds up Bunyan's rare early singles, acetates and demos along with a spectacular 1964 reel-to-reel of her first ever studio recordings. These tracks have a happy resonance with Dusty Springfield and Sandy Shaw, sans those ladies' penchant for bombast. Here, Bunyan offers unalloyed intimacy and the unforced innocence that marks much of the music to come out of the '60s. The arrangements range from the shivery acappella of "If In Winter (100 Lovers)" to the simple, sweet guitar & voice settings of the 1964 session to the bouncing, orchestrated bomp of the title tune and "Coldest Night Of The Year," which would sound snug as a bug on the fantabulous A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector (possibly the single coolest Xmas record of all time).

Some Things fleshes out the picture of Bunyan, known primarily for her two studio releases, Diamond Day and 2005's long awaited follow-up, Lookaftering. In an era of cookie cutter pop fluff, Bunyan emerged a fully formed talent with a distinctive voice. She might not have caught the commercial breaks of many of her less gifted peers but that takes nothing away from stunning singles like "Train Song" or the previously unreleased "Winter Is Blue," which soar with the breathy headspace of the best Simon and Garfunkel. Some Things is music to get lost in, letting a skilled songstress steer you along her reverberant pathways with halcyon skill.

JamBase | England
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[Published on: 1/13/08]

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tourfan Mon 1/14/2008 08:38AM
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Nice Snappy, Nice. One question however. These demos were recorded in the mid-sixties. But you also mention 2005's long awaited follow-up, Lookaftering. Did she record everything in that era and are they now just re-releases, or is she making new music in 2007-08?

snappy Mon 1/14/2008 05:25PM
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She's making music these days. Lookaftering was recorded in 2004 and there's apparently a couple more albums in the can now. She's been a guest on Devendra's recordings in recent years, too.