Folk heroine looks back in time in the company of fellow travelers from FAIRPORTS, CRIMSO and other walks of her life.
It takes a kindred spirits coterie to come up with a masterpiece like this – otherwise, the loneliness will prevail, and being alone is not what Judy Dyble’s path has been about. One of the greatest English folk voices, she never limited her horizons genre-wise and, after a stint with FAIRPORT CONVENTION that Judy was the first singer of, joined GILES, GILES AND FRIPP before moving on to TRADER HORNE and leaving the scene in 1973 only to get back three decades on. Since then, Dyble went from strength to strength, and this album is the lady’s finest hour which encompasses all of her life.
Its microcosm, the 19-minute prog suite “Harpsong”, takes a third of the record and is its focal point thanks to Robert Fripp’s guitar blaring in one scope with Ian McDonald‘s reeds for the first time since KING CRIMSON’s debut. But, with that band’s another alumnus, Pat Mastelotto on percussion, FAIRPORTS’ Simon Nicol providing acoustic strum, and the vocal backing by PENTANGLE’s Jacqui McShee and ALL ABOUT EVE’s Julianne Regan, the many colors and textures of this epic, a long glance over the shoulder, hide, rather than highlight, the real Judy who opens the piece to let all her guests in. More naturally, Dyble cuts to her, and her listener’s, very psyche on other songs here: on the tremulous, strings-caressed cover of Greg Lake’s “C’est La Vie” and on opener “Neverknowing”, short and delicate paean to “the age of beauty”.
The low tones of NO-MAN’s Tim Bowness counterpoint Dyble’s soaring soprano on the latter, and the two duet on the wonderful story “Grey October Day”, embroidered with Laurie A’Court’s sax. Dyble flies even higher, spiritually, on the baroque ballads “Jazzbirds” and “(In The) Dreamtime” with its walking groove and gentle flute, yet takes a more chamber approach for the airy title track rolling delicate words over romantic piano. The most crystal clear moments float into view with “Sparkling”, transparently glacial and hypnotic, although not as enchanting as the folky “Waiting” that elegantly turns droning aloofness into moving intimacy. It’s always like this when you’re talking with strangers: the connection is what one’s path leads to.