Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM
Quintessentially English, this, the new album from the pairing of ex Fairport Convention singer Judith Dyble and Big Big Train’s David Longdon, is soaked with the atmosphere of all the seasons rolled into one and a gentler, more peaceful time.
The whole project finds itself a bittersweet celebration of the artistry of Dyble who passed away in July this year, the world a dimmer place without her but blessed with recordings like this that radiate an incandescent beauty.
Never maudlin, but full of a joy and optimism, the seven tracks herein bring an absolute riot of colours and textures.
Elements of folk, prog and psychodelia interweave in a languorous dance that is gorgeous in its unhurried and free flowing movement.
Adding to this, both singers’ vocals contrast and complement each other perfectly, bringing deep shades of feeling to their performances, drawing out the very best in each other.
There is a slight edge of world weary fragility here but these are just slight cracks in a shell that covers a huge inner strength, no more so than on the heartbreaking ‘Tidying The Pieces’ where Dyble narrates the attitudes and actions of when she and those around her are discussing the cancer that eventually took her life.
Again, it needs to be reiterated that this isn’t a mournful piece of work but one that abounds with a sense of the celebration of life and its many adventures.
With the sound of school children playing at the beginning of ‘France’, this is suitably Gaelic sounding start soon morphs into something that pulls in the widescreen drama of more grandiose prog elements, a fascinating suite in several parts.
Ending in an virtually unrestrained tumult, the track is a real centrepiece in an album that has so many highpoints that each new listen will doubtless bring forth new details to delight the senses.
From the gently pastoral ‘Astrologers’, the 1970’s folky prog with a touch of The Beatles of the title track or the glam rock elements amongst the whimsical woodwind of ‘Whisper’ here is a patchwork of sounds put together with the eye and care of a master craftsman.
The album finishes with Dyble starkly intoning the line ‘’And what will be the next adventure, should there be such a thing?’’ and it’s a shattering but ultimately uplifting end to an extraordinary recording and an equally extraordinary life. Absolutely outstanding.