For those who have lived with and loved Vashti Bunyan’ Another Diamond Day, her second album after 35 years will be genuinely spine-tingling stuff. Listening to this record it feels as though so little has changed, Bunyan’ worldview is as idiosyncratic as ever, and her oblique lyrics hint at some greater understanding of the world. Superficially, things have changed; gone is the mud, rain and hoof beats of her debut album, recorded as she lived a nomadic life travelling across England in a horse-drawn carriage. In their place are domestic concerns like children, cups, saucers and, most of all, love and longing.
Vashti’ debut has been given new life in recent years, due to its status as a beloved totem for contemporary luminaries like Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart. Both Banhart and Newsom guest on this album, along with Adem and a member of Espers. Without looking at the liner notes it would be hard to pick their contributions, though Newsom’ harp remains pretty distinctive. This record is all about Vashti and her spirit permeates every inch of it.
The most prominent contributions come from the record’ producer, the composer Max Richter. Richter’ work here is very different here to his own Blue Notebooks album. He manages to create a delicately orchestrated album while never abandoning the pastoral feel of her Incredible String Band backed debut. There are several wonderful moments where lilting flutes swell up to match the longing and hints of wanderlust in Bunyan’ voice. “Feet of Clay’ in particular is a great arrangement; Vashti’ lovelorn lyric is backed by a stately piano and strings waltz.
The album closes with Bunyan accompanying herself humming aimlessly on the guitar, perfectly contented and seemingly at one with the world. Vashti Bunyan’ return to form is full of magic. She manages to push time away and create an extraordinary thing of beauty