British progressive folk doyenne spins another set of tales, up close and personal.
“I am the creature of legend and lie,” goes gently rocking opener “Black Dog Dreams” as if to sum up not only the canine view but also the popular view of Judy Dyble, an embodiment of humility not capable of such self-aggrandizing act. That fact doesn’t diminish the lady’s ability to shape records of grand nature and, since her 2004’s return from retirement, Dyble’s been on a roll which resulted in the brilliant "Talking With Strangers". Loathe to tread the same water twice and not trying to better that multicolored stroll down the memory lane past her FAIRPORT and KING CRIMSON connections, this time Judy casts less extrovert glance over her shoulder and around to register the titular process – innermost rather than outward – in a series of patinated pictures possessed of a powerful pull.
Now this force is felt frontal even vocal-wise, as the ’40s-styled “Beautiful Child” focuses, perhaps for the first time in the artist’s career, on both emotion and Dyble’s amazing singing technique. Supported by usual co-conspirator Alistair Murphy’s piano and switching from the first-person lookout to the abstract “she” when it comes to naturalistic romanticism, Judy slides towards the 12-minute outdoors panorama of “The Sisterhood Of Ruralists” from the “Featherdancing” chamber strings, and this recollection ushers in a bittersweet nostalgia. Sometimes the mood gets as lyrical as it is disturbing, though: not for nothing the bliss of “Crowbaby” is ruffled with Pat Mastelotto’s percussion that underlies Jeremy Salmon’s exquisite guitar. But then, the drums propel “Head Full Of Stars,” where ALL ABOUT EVE’s Julianne Regan joins the ABBA-esque harmonies, to effervescence, while COUNTING CROWS’ Matt Malley adds the soothing voice to the harpsichord-signed “Letters.”
Nothing stays the same, then, but one can be assured that, despite this album’s confidential murkiness, that’s not the sunset of the lady Dyble’s melodious day.