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Album Review: Vashti Bunyan – Heartleap

Album Review: Vashti Bunyan – Heartleap

Artist: Vashti Bunyan
Album: Heartleap
Tracks: 10
Release Date: 6th October
Label: FatCat Records

British singer-songwriter Vashti Bunyan will be releasing her new album, Heartleap, on 6th October 2014 through FatCat Records. Heartleap is the artist’s third studio album, following Lookaftering in 2005. Before this, Vashti had been on a 35 year hiatus following the release of her début album Just Another Diamond Day, which was first released in 1970. Bunyan had left music shortly after the album sold very few copies, and ironically gained cult status amongst her following, leading to a re-release in 2000.

Having had 9 years to write material after her previous album, we can only hope that Heartleap lives up to expectation. The opening track on Heartleap is Across The Water. This track is typically a Vashti Bunyan song, with a dreamy edge and an almost lullaby-like melody. It opens the album with a recognisable, comforting sound, which will be welcomed and reassuring to the Bunyanites out there. It’s always tentative releasing music, and being unsure whether or not the original fan base is still there, and if they still want to hear the same sort of music they were hearing in the 1970’s.

One of the more notable tracks on the album is Mother. Introducing itself with a slow piano, the song goes on to feature a violin accompaniment which almost gives it a festive atmosphere. The song conjures up feelings of a cold, grey winters day. The lyrics on this track are undeniably heartfelt and personal, giving it an extra ‘je ne sais quois’, perhaps authenticity, which is a major aspect of all the tracks on this album.

Shell, like many Vashti Bunyan songs, features interesting instrumentation layers and compositions, including a piano bordering on a harpsichord. This adds a sense of originality to Bunyan’s music, a pleasing prospect after all the years away from music. Possibly this could be Vashti’s way of bringing the zeitgeist of 1970’s folk back into the fold.

Blue Shed is a track on the album, most distinct because of its lyrics. Time and time again Bunyan offers honest lines and this track is no exception. Blue Shed is very story-led and some listeners will find they can relate to some of the key lyrics, an important factor for an artist hoping to stay current. The album closes with the eponymous track Heartleap. It is definitely one of the stronger tracks on the album. It has an interesting melody, as to be expected it has interesting lyrics and again features an almost lullaby like piano accompaniment, making it a perfect ‘wind-down’ for the end of the album.

vashti doorstep flowers

For the first time Bunyan has had complete control over the album making process and so recorded and edited much of it alone at her home studio in Edinburgh. For a mostly solo effort, the production is fantastic. Bunyan has expressed that the process would have been easier with an engineer and a producer, but she’s also said recording it alone meant she could make it into the record she wanted to make, rather than it be changed as part of a collaborative effort. Without any deadlines to meet, Bunyan has been able to take time over record’s creation.

Overall, the album is interesting, relaxing and features some great vocal performances from Bunyan. One slightly downside to the record is that due to the similar pace and sounds of many of the songs, some fade into one another and it can be hard to hear notable differences between them. For existing Bunyan fans, this won’t be a problem and they’ll be pleased with her new effort. As well as many of the songs sounding similar, sometimes it can be hard to work out where the verses change to choruses, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. The record is extremely intricate and the flow of the different parts means it adds to the overall flow of the record merging into one piece of music.

Heartleap will be released on 6th October 2014 through FatCat Records.

Vashti Bunyan will also be performing live in the UK following the release of the album:

7th October – MAC, Birmingham
8th October – St Pancras Church, London
9th October – St Pancras Church, London
11th October – The Band Room, Farndale
12th October – St Phillip’s Church, Manchester

For more information please visit: FatCat Records

About The Author

Currently studying for a degree in Music and Entertainment Industry Management at University of Hertfordshire.

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