Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

Leap of Joy

Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

Leap of Joy

Article excerpt

Last fall, after nine years of near silence, the British cult singer Vashti Bunyan released Heartleap, her third set of ethereal, pensive songs. If it wasn't for a painting by her daughter, Whyn Lewis, the album may never have appeared at all.

"[The painting] shows how the hart-a male deer-will give a leap of joy when it knows it is escaping when being chased," Bunyan says. "1 was gazing at it one day, and I just picked up my guitar and there was the song."

The tune unlocked a long-germinating project. After her 2005 release, Lookaftering, Bunyan had worked sporadically on new material. "It was only when this last song, 'Heartleap,' was written and recorded that I knew the record could happen," she says.

An intensely personal collection that evokes emotions that are beyond words, Heartleap fits snugly among Bunyan's two previous albums. She released her first one, Just Another Diamond Day, 45 years ago. It's a set of magical-realist traveler's tunes that documented Bunyan's exodus from swinging London to the Outer Hebrides, but sold so poorly that she quit making music for 35 years. After the neglected album was rediscovered in the 2000s by alternative acoustic musicians, she recorded and released the shimmering Lookaftering, which established Bunyan as the godmother of the early-2000s freak-folk scene.

But don't call Bunyan a folk artist.

"I'm hard to categorize," Bunyan admits. "But I don't see my work as folk in any way- unless playing an acoustic guitar immediately makes you a folksinger."

With Heartleap, Bunyan did considerably more than play guitar. …

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