Dick’s Pick’s: Getting lost in the tranquility of Vashti Bunyan’s debut album, Just Another Diamond Day

Given that Dick has had a few hair-raising weeks with a wide array of frantic and bizarre music, he has returned to a much more idyllic setting this time. Ever the fan of early folk recordings, Dick has been taking in the tranquil sounds of Vashti Bunyan’s debut album, Just Another Diamond Day.

Vashti Bunyan? Never heard of her?

Bunyan moved to New York from Newcastle Upon Tyne at the tender age of 18, where she discovered the music of Bob Dylan, courtesy of The Freewheelin’. It was here that she decided she wanted to pursue a career in music, and returned to England. After releasing a handful of singles on Decca and Columbia, including the Mick Jagger and Keith Richards penned, Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind, the path to superstardom for the folk-singer looked all but set.

However, things didn’t quite go as planned. Bunyan signed with Phillips, and poured her heart and soul into her debut album, Just Another Diamond Day, only to receive a lukewarm reception from fans and little to no promotion from the label. This would cause Bunyan to feel demoralised with the music industry, sending her almost into exile and opting to live a low-profile life. It would be nearly 30 years later that word would get back to her about the collectability of Just Another Diamond Day, and that it is now looked upon as a landmark British folk album.

‘Landmark British folk album’ is a bold statement, Dick…

True, but a justified one. While it may be somewhat twee in places, certainly by today’s standards, it has at sense of tranquillity about that other folk artists at the time, such as Nick Drake or Sandy Denny, seemed to forgo. It was born from Bunyan’s reflection on travelling through Scotland by horse and wagon in the late ‘60s, with a realism and honesty that allows you to picture everything that she saw through her eyes.

Despite being joined by a host of well-respected musicians, including Dave Swarbrick and Simon Nicol of Fairport Convention, Just Another Diamond Day features minimal instrumentation. Mainly utilising acoustic guitars, traditional fiddle sections, and dreamy, softly picked harp serve as the perfect canvas for Bunyan’s enchanting voice. Glorious melodies glide through Glow Worms and Window Over The Bay, eschewing any folk clichés that had started to become the norm by 1970.

So many albums are often underappreciated at the time they are released, and perhaps Just Another Diamond Day had been given the attention it deserved, we wouldn’t have had to wait 35 years for another Vashti Bunyan album. That said, this album has aged much like a fine wine. The style may have been duplicated over the years, but few have come close to the beauty of this long-forgotten classic.

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