Product Reviews

Product: Judy Dyble - Talking With Strangers
Date: 2013-06-01 

Talking With Strangers


Judy Dyble: Talking with strangers (Gonzo Multimedia, U.K. 2013)
Talking with Strangers is enjoying a re-release. We reviewed it back in 2010, but thanks to its rapidly increasing popularity, it’s been put back on the market, this time by Gonzo Multimedia, with bonus tracks. For those of you who don’t know this iconic figure of English folk, let’s take a little trip back into the past.
Judy joined Fairport Convention at the age of 18 and was their first female singer. She can be heard on their eponymous first album which came out in 1968, but on its release Judy was dropped from the band and was replaced by Sandy Denny. In the same year, she recorded with the Incredible String Band on their 3rd album. During this very active period she joined Giles, Giles and Fripp, thanks to her then boy-friend Ian McDonald. Judy split with McDonald, who went on to join King Crimson, while Judy joined Trader Horne. In 1970, this duo released Morning Way. In 1973, Judy quit the music scene to become a librarian, a career she followed until 1994, the year in which she lost her husband,
It was thanks to Fairport Convention reunions that she decided to tread the boards again, and she released two limited-edition solo albums.  In 2008 she set to work on Talking with Strangers with the help of a number of friends, including Robert Fripp, Ian McDonald, Simon Nicol of Fairport Convention, Tim Bowness of No Man and Alistair Murphy of Cromer Museum.
Talking with Strangers is a rich jewel set within exquisitely finely-crafted melodies. We’re straight into pure grace and beauty on the very short Never Knowing, on which Judy’s angelic voice blends perfectly with Simon Nicol’s guitar, just as in the old Fairport days. Alistair Murphy plays a range of instruments on Jazzbirds (guitar, slide guitar, organ) - - it’s a number that’s gently cradled in Judy’s beautiful voice and supported by the flute of Ian McDonald. A subtle harpsichord backing reminds one of the fabulous Fotheringay.
Then follows a pretty faithful cover of the famous C’est la Vie by Pete Sinfield and Greg Lake. Judy’s voice and the backing vocals are spell-binding, with a beautiful violin being added to this classic lament. Talking with Strangers is an intimate song with Murphy’s ever-graceful piano accompaniment as its only backing.
Dreamtime was written by Judy Dyble and John Gilles, and it’s the latter who plays guitar on this. There’s a flute in there too, and Pat Mastelotto, Crimson’s drummer, adds some subtle percussion. Judy’s voice is so exquisite on this number that you wonder why she was ever dropped from Fairport!
Grey October Day takes a new tack with a rather catchy, jazzy sound. It’s an emotional vocal duo between Judy and Tim Bowness; there’s also some melancholy sax played by Laurie A’court of Blue Fingers, a blues-rock cover band.
After this rather relaxing piece of folk, we reach the sensational 19-minute long Harpsong, which begins on a delicate note with acoustic guitar and Judy’s autoharp, followed by one of Fripp’s famous soundscapes. The emotion mounts gradually thanks to saxophone, drums and piano, but it all comes to a halt with a sudden Crimson-style explosion, before it begins its gentle descent to the end. The vocals are really heart-felt, as Judy aimed to put all the periods of her musical career into this song - in fact, her whole life. Two bonus tracks have been added. Sparkling, with a Mellotron-like backing, is captivating.
Waiting is fronted by the violin of Rachel Hall of Stackridge, who’s also recently worked with Big Big Train. This is an outstanding album by the unfairly neglected Judy Dyble, and this is certainly her most personal album.
Jean-Pierre Schricke


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