Product Reviews

Product: Judy Dyble - Talking With Strangers
Date: 2013-04-01 

Talking With Strangers


Translation of Highlands Magazine Review
Talking with Strangers
(UK, 2010)
Judy Dyble was the first singer with Fairport Convention, a British band who began to blend folk and rock from 1967 onwards. Judy was a member of the band between 1967 and 1968 and sang on the first album. She was replaced by Sandy Denny on the following album, What We Did On Our Holidays. Judy’s career as a singer had begun in 1964 with Judy and the Folkmen. After leaving Fairport Convention she joined her boy-friend Ian McDonald in Giles, Giles and Fripp. Following that, she formed Trader Horne with Jackie McAuley, and the duo brought out the folk-influenced album Morning Way. In 1973, Judy made a break with the world of music and became a librarian. It was only in 1981 that she returned to the music-circuit, thanks to Fairport Convention’s reunion concerts.
En 2008 she started work on Talking with Strangers with the help of her musician friends Ian McDonald (saxophone and flute) and Robert Fripp. Guitarist Simon Nicol, the longest-serving member of Fairport Convention, is also in the mix. On backing vocals are Celia Humphris of Trees, Jacquie McShee of Pentangle and Julianne Regan of All About Eve. Pat Mastelotto is another notable presence on drums. And let’s not forget one key member: Tim Bowness of No-Man, producer and co-singer.
Judy sets out her musical stall from the first bars of ‘Never Knowing’, a mini-ballad which lasts only 1 minute 42 seconds. She is endowed with a clear, expressive voice of rare purity, shown off to best advantage by first-class recording. You can just tell that she’s at the top of her game, as if she’d never stopped singing. Then follows ‘Jazzbirds’. Behind the ever-beautiful voice floats Ian McDonald’s delightful pastoral flute, while a harpsichord recalls the heyday of British folk-rock in a baroque style à la Fotheringay. The third track is a brilliant new version of ‘C’est la vie’, with its gentle refrain, originally recorded by Greg Lake back in 1975.  The lead vocal is stunning, as are the backing vocals. This is real folk, with violin and acoustic guitar, all recalling Fairport Convention. Then we come to ‘Talking with Strangers’, an astonishingly pure and stylish track, with Judy’s ethereal voice backed by piano. This is a song full of freshness and delicacy. ‘Dreamtime’, written by Dyble and Giles, is another gorgeous piece, with rich laid-back male backing vocals, a flute accompaniment and very subtle drumming.
But our golden-voiced singer hasn’t forgotten the progressive side of her delightful personality, and ‘Harpsong’ is the album’s closing track, a 19-minute number leading to a climax in which everything cuts loose, while delicate harmonies are added to bring that touch of beauty. At first everything is sweetness and light, with subtle rhythms, and Judy’s voice like velvet. Then Robert Fripp’s disturbing soundscapes come in, together with Ian McDonald’s saxophone, two elements which recall the glory days of Crimson’s first line-up. Is this prog-rock? Well, a pure Crimson instrumental now crashes in, with odd-time rhythms, saxophone bordering on free-form, and jagged guitar. This album is a total success, thanks to the comforting warmth of Judy’s voice. Go on, yield to temptation! (*****)

Jean-Pierre SCHRICKE                                            Translation by Ian Maun 


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