Music News

Vashti Bunyan

Serving as a direct challenge to the mindset that has deemed Vashti Bunyan the patron saint of freak folk, this two-disc collection of demos and unreleased songs from the singer's earliest era demonstrates an approach far less common than the one for which she is known. Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind opens, after all, with a song written by Jagger/Richards that is overseen by famed Stones producer Andrew Loog Oldham. Of course, Bunyan — with her breathy, caught-short voice and spare acoustic style — never became the pop princess Oldham may have envisioned. After recording all of these 25 songs (some of which appeared as bonus cuts on the recent reissue of her debut album), she made one last stab at music-business success by aligning herself with the more like-minded souls in the Incredible String Band/Nick Drake universe. That alliance yielded her influential Just Another Diamond Day album, and the invisibility she assumed after that recording's release contributed to her current legendary status. But as this collection makes clear — whether it's the basic, straightforward recordings that make up the second disc or the more polished demos on the first — Bunyan never desired to be "the hermit folk-singer." Instead, she firmly believed in the simple strength of her songs and wished for them to be heard by as many people as possible. Too bad it took nearly 40 years — and some accidental fame — for it to happen.

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Jason Ferguson