PRINT December 2008


Vashti Bunyan


1 Lambchop, OH (ohio) (City Slang) From the first listen—oh (love).

2 Brian Wilson, That Lucky Old Sun (Capitol Records) Of course, a miracle. This album throws me from nostalgia to confusion, and back. I was in a park in Los Angeles recently when Brian Wilson walked down the path, and it was all I could do not to run to him and fling my arms around his neck crying, “Do you know how much you meant to me?” But I didn’t. British reticence, or good sense—I’m not sure.

3 Vetiver, Thing of the Past (Gnomonsong) Lead singer Andy Cabic’s voice has a quality like no other, quiet and gentle, but it can reach right into the heart. Cabic also searches out brilliant but obscure musicians in the dollar bins of secondhand record stores. Vetiver’s recent covers album serves as a good guide to what drives his band.

4 Mike Heron and Georgia Seddon at the KCRW World Festival, Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles I’ve known Heron since 1970. Hearing Seddon say, “Now I’d like to introduce my dad,” and seeing him walk onstage at the Hollywood Bowl this past June moved me enormously. Listening to them play beautiful Incredible String Band songs that are so familiar to me was certainly one of the best nights of the year.

5 Elbow, The Seldom Seen Kid (Polydor Records) It feels as if they have delivered every last bit of their souls into the building of this magnificently emotional album—deservedly the winner of this year’s UK Mercury Prize. Lead singer Guy Garvey is one of the nicest people I have ever met. He once brought me lemon, honey, and ginger when my voice was faltering.

6 The Heritage Orchestra at Royal Festival Hall, Meltdown Festival, London This performance of Vangelis’s Blade Runner sound track—mixed live by Massive Attack (the curators of this year’s Meltdown)—was an extraordinary achievement for the London-based collective of musicians, as the synthesizer-only original was never scored for real instruments. The audience erupted at the end.

7 Shlomo The rhythms and melodies that Shlomo—a beatbox artist from London, whom I first heard in Moscow—produces with only his mouth and a microphone are mesmerizing. He has been involved with all kinds of musicians, from Björk to Damon Albarn, and yet he has no solo recordings. Maybe next year.

8 Monica, “The Boy Is Mine” (duet with Brandy), The Boy Is Mine (Arista Records) This may be cheating, as it is from a decade ago—but I’ve been looking for the original version from Monica’s solo album for a long time, and finally found it on eBay this year. The first bars of intricate, harplike notes transfix me every time.

9 John Renbourn I hadn’t heard Renbourn (from the 1960s band Pentangle, but also a solo and hugely influential guitarist) play live since we were both young, but this past spring I was delighted to find him performing at a friend’s Scotland wedding—masterful as always. Some guests kept on talking and I wanted to stand up and say, “Do you know who this is?” I get mad when anyone onstage is laying themselves bare and, still, the conversations grow louder.

10 Max Richter, 24 Postcards in Full Colour (FatCat Records) These musical glimpses are all short and sweet—which resonates for me, since my songs are often under two minutes. In the past I have watched Richter work like a whirlwind, where notes fly from him like sparks yet always land in the right places, creating music that is calming and dreamlike. He is such a contradiction.

Vashti Bunyan is a British singer and songwriter whose first album, Just Another Diamond Day—largely ignored on its 1970 release—was reissued in 2000 to critical acclaim. Her follow-up album, Lookaftering, was released in 2005. Bunyan is currently working on a third album.