Album Reviews

Vashti Bunyan – Heartleap (Dicristina Stair Builders)

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vashti-bunyan-heartleapThe release of a new original album by Vashti Bunyan is as rare as it is exciting, especially considering that her last was released nearly a decade ago and that one was her first in 35 years.

Much like her 1960’s esoteric singer/songwriter peers Linda Perhacs and Nick Drake, Bunyan and her music went virtually unnoticed until being rediscovered around the turn of the 21st century. Since then, a loyal, thriving fan base (including the likes of Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom) has developed and brought Bunyan back to the studio and stage.

Despite the many years that have passed since the debut that initially created her cult following, Bunyan’s soft, angelic voice has gone nearly unchanged. For instance, on “Blue Shed,” her voice is as smooth, gentle and fluid as it was on any track from 1970’s Just Another Diamond Day.

Every track here features exactly what fans love about the music of Bunyan: graceful melodies, ethereal instrumentation, hushed sympathetic vocals and lyrics that read like cherished memories. The reason this record sounds so “quintessentially Bunyan” is probably because it’s the only one of her albums where she has remained in total control. Her previous efforts had the collaborative fingerprints of producers and arrangers such as Robert Kirby, Max Richter and Joe Boyd, who were great pairings for Bunyan’s sound. However, an artist as strikingly personal, unique and distinctive as Bunyan deserves to carry the reins of her own project.

– Keith Hadad

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