There’s a lot of things to say about Vashti Bunyan, but most of all I’d like to say she’s a swell lady, a great performer and I really wish she were my mother-in-law. How sweet would it be to have someone who ran around Ireland and Scotland teaching music, living like a hippie, having babies and making these short, ultra-twee and very remarkable folk songs as your wife’s mother? I cannot even begin to imagine the sweetness that would result.
Not that there’s be any formal marriage thing anyway, probably; maybe out in a glen somewhere with some gypsies. Regardless, Vashti Bunyan has a high and clear voice that rings over everything like a wetnurse for your heart, and all you can do is hang on to her apron until the rain stops. She’s not even human, but a twinkle fairy from, uh, well I’m going to avoid the soft racism and hard cliche-ism of going into some wank about Sidhe but suffice it to say that I find it difficult to describe a woman who gives a concert and nearly starts crying from happy embarassment between sets.
She was literally blown away that a crowd had filled the Bowery Ballroom to listen to her play songs from when she was 19. She’s so sweet we all went home with diabetes.
I would recommend one start with Lookaftering, unless you have a taste for something that sounds like the British countryside circa 1970. I think Just Another Diamond Day it’s a great flavor myself, and it sounds very nice – this “Piers” person who remastered it did an excellent job. She sings, the instruments sort of play, but mostly Vashti sings. People have told me it’s sort of depressing, or at least melancholic and slathered in malaise-onnaise, but I think they’re full of it. Depression is different than sadness, and both are different from poignancy. Perhaps that’s maturity in a nutshell, or glibness in a zip-lok.
Lookaftering has a few more layers to it, but the most remarkable distinction is how little her voice had changed in 35 years. It was very strange to listen to this woman explain the origin of every song – short version: heartache – in a voice that sounded like a soft-spoken 50-year-old woman; as she picked up the guitar after each embarassed exposition, the voice that came out then was only slightly more rough than the recordings she made as a teenager.
It’s a rainy day kind of music, and I would keep it on hand to help soothe the tremors of the paranoid and the pains of women with menstrual cramps, if nothing else. And if occasionally you need to slip in between the soft blankets of your mind, she’ll stroke your head and tell you that it’s going to be all right after all.
In closing, maybe someone has a sad sack story about how her hippie mom turned her into a nutbag and all her boyfriends leave her, but all I can say is not this hippie, not now, and not ever; I shall not be moved from being moved. Even her nagging would be supportive and sensitive.
Sample: Just Another Diamond Day