The original female voice of Fairport Convention and subsequently part of Giles, Giles and Fripp and Trader Horne, Dyble retired from the music business in 1973. However, following a handful of live festival appearances, she returned to recording with a double A-side single in March 2008, followed by her solo debut album, Talking With Strangers, in August 2009. Featuring, among others Robert Fripp, Ian McDonald, Julianne Regan, Simon Nicol and Jacqui McShee alongside co-writer Alistair Murphy on acoustic guitar and piano, bassist Mark Fletcher and guitarist Jeremy Salmon, the latter three comprising the core of her band of the last ten years, ‘The Perfect Strangers’, appearing on her three solo albums (but not Summer Dancing, a 2017 electronica collaboration with Andy Lewis).
They again join her here now on Weavings Of A Silver Magic, her second live album, recorded at St. Barnabas Church in Cambridge in September 2016 and featuring the Ad Hoc Strings quintet, keyboards and cajon. Save for one number, the material’s all drawn from 2013’s Flow and Change and Earth is Sleeping, her most recent, from 2018, the concert getting underway with cello, pulsing bass and then tinkled piano introducing the suitably dreamy reverie of ‘Driftaway’ from the former, Dyble’s lyrics set to music by Dean Frances-Hawksley and Andy Suttie of Temple Cloud Country. The same album spins up ‘Crowbaby’, one of four numbers that also featured on Live at WM Jazz, a Spanish guitar run providing the prelude to and bridge in the piano-led dark and bittersweet pastoral folk metaphorical tale of a young bird unable to control its destiny, the strings now sweeping up the lullabying chorus.
The gentle, piano waltzing end of an affair ‘See What Your Words’ is the first from Earth Is Sleeping, less edgy than the studio version and with considerably more strings, followed by another with ‘Faded Elvis’, another bittersweet piano ballad, this telling of the nine to five drone who escapes the mundanity of his life stacking supermarket shelvs as a not particularly successful Elvis impersonator, the song interpolating poignant snatch of ‘Love Me Tender’.
She returns to the former album for the final numbers, first up being ‘Silence’, a sad song about a woman walking back to the house where she lives alone, yearning to talk to her late and much missed husband, the sweeping and pizzicato strings adding a further emotive tug. It’s followed by the childhood reminiscence of ‘Featherdancing’, casting back in time to when “my sisters and I danced like angels” on a chamber music string intro before shading into an old music hall-like quality. The third, again themed around memory, is the gorgeous ‘Wintersong’, a simple piano ballad with the strings substituting the original’s horns. As on the studio album, it’s followed by the tempo shifting epic ‘The Sisterhood of Ruralists’, a tribute to the four artists, Catherine Hyde (The Hare Lady), Jackie Morris (The Dragon Lady), Hannah Willow (The Silver Lady) and Tamsin Abbott (The Stained Glass Lady), that also appeared on the previous live album. This, though, is the longest version yet, stretching to fifteen-and-a-half minutes with the bonus of more expansive strings than on WM Jazz.
Weavings Of A Silver Magic ends with the aforementioned exception, a six-minute arrangement on ‘I Talk To The Wind’, the dreamy song, and an evocation of early Fairport, she recorded both as a demo with Giles, Giles and Fripp, which eventually surfaced on the 2002 reissue of their 1968 Brondesbury Tapes, and, in a more uptempo version with King Crimson on the 1976 compilation A Young Person’s Guide To King Crimson. Pure magic throughout- silver, gold and platinum.
Artist’s website: www.judydyble.com
‘I Talk To The Wind’ – live: