And all strangely fashionable too...
By the end of the ’60s, plenty of British hippies had given up trying to recreate a Utopian idyll in the cities and made a break for the countryside. One such was the formidably-named [a]Vashti Bunyan[/a], a singer/songwriter discovered by Andrew Loog Oldham and – briefly and unsuccessfully – hyped as the new [a]Marianne Faithfull[/a].
In 1968, her career going nowhere, Bunyan did what must have seemed the logical thing – set off for an artist’s community set up by Donovan on the Isle Of Skye in a gypsy caravan with a horse, a dog and a boyfriend in tow. The journey lasted a year-and-a-half, and ended when they discovered Donovan had given up on the whole plan.
What remained, however, were a dozen or so tremendous songs she’d written on the way, the kind of songs that evoke a gentle, innocent, bucolic life that only ever existed in the played-out fantasies of a few ambitious hippies. Recorded in London with various straw -chewing reprobates from Fairport Convention, the Incredible String Band, plus Nick Drake‘s string arranger Robert Kirby, ‘Just Another Diamond Day’ was briefly released and roundly ignored, in 1970. Bunyan, by now completely fed up with the game, stuffed off to the west of Ireland and didn’t come back.
If her life was as free of urban shit as this blessedly reissued album suggests, who can blame her? Those suspicious of fol-de-rolling may want to tread carefully here, but ‘Glow Worms’ and ‘Swallow Song’, especially, are gifted with a beauty and purity rare even in her contemporaries. And all strangely fashionable, too, thanks to Kathryn Williams‘ nomination for the Mercury Music fandango. To the bothy, kids.