Vashti Bunyan – Lookaftering (CD)

The tracks on “Lookaftering” really flow like honey; Bunyan comes through with a distinctive, not-quite falsetto set of vocals. These vocals are bolstered by some of the most emotive and honest guitar work ever produced, and in some sense actually provide Bunyan with a second set of vocals to play off of. Every piece of instrumentation on “Lookaftering” is quality-controlled and checked until the best fit is allowed to finally represent Bunyan; it may just be this devotion to crafting the best sound that made for a three and a half decade absence from studio music. Why exactly Bunyan’s first album was a commercial flop the first time it came out is beyond me; 200 showed that good music does prevail in the re-issue of Bunyan’s first album “Another Diamond Day”.

Tracks like “Hidden” may benefit from current equipment and mastering, but the soul of Bunyan’s music is what really pushes this album into the stratosphere. Something as simple as Bunyan’s voice elicits a gamut of emotion, almost driving listeners to tears; the sheer brilliance of “Against The Sky” having more to do with the lachrymal response than any depressing subject material. Furthermore, it is not necessarily the music that is the talk of the town on “Lookaftering”; even more so, the fact that Bunyan is able to put a lifetime of experience in short, three to four minute tracks speaks much to eir ability as an artist. The disc is surprisingly short, a fault which is exacerbated by the easy-going-down type of music constructed by Bunyan.

There seems to be a lot of influence taken from Bunyan by folkies the world over; on tracks like “If I Were”, the same style of music dominates that really marked Catherine O’Hara’s work as Mallory on A Mighty Wind. There is no real need for any of the instruments that make rock loud and raucous; it is easy to hear during tracks like “Brother” and Bunyan’s earnest style actually provides listeners with more emotional fury than any person with a complete drum set and a copy of Black Sabbath’s recordings could ever create. There is tremendous replay value to “Lookaftering”, because this album lends itself well to either active or passive listening. Hopefully the space between Bunyan’s second and third album will be much shorter than the one between eir first and second one. Still, this album is well worth the thirty-five year wait.

Top Tracks: Feet of Clay, Hidden

Rating: 7.3/10

Vashti Bunyan – Lookaftering / 2005 DiChristina / 11 Tracks / http://www.anotherday.co.uk / Reviewed 30 November 2005

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