Judy Dyble and Andy Lewis - Summer Dancing

by Bill Golembeski Rating:9 Release Date:2017-08-18

Some resumes are pitiful. For example, when I was applying many years ago for an English/track coach job, I listed as an accomplishment that I was the author of a play which was performed at a local high school. Of course, I didn’t mention as I sat in the audience, a man (who did not know I was the author and whose grandson apparently starred in my thespian creation) turned to me and said, “This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen". I didn’t know what to say, so I simply nodded in agreement. I also noted in my resume that I had taken third in a high jump contest to up my potential track coach street credentials. This was true. But I neglected to mention there were only three of us in the event.

Of course, some resumes are not pitiful. For example, Judy Dyble was the original singer in a Muswell Hill once upon a time pop group known and loved by all as Fairport Convention. Then she joined up with Giles, Giles, & Fripp (aka a nascent King Crimson) and sang on early demos, including “I Talk to the Wind” and “Under the Sky". Judy also sang and wrote songs with Jackie McAuley in Trader Horn, a rare and sadly neglected folk-psych band.

Then she sort of disappeared.  We fans were left with Simon Nicol’s comment in Patrick Humphries’ Fairport biography Meet on the Ledge that suggested she “was very shy, hiding behind her glasses.”

And Sandy Denny became famous.

In the meantime, the Earth revolved a lot. We all survived the Presidency of Ronald Reagan. My Green Bay Packers won another Super Bowl.  Hairs on my head turned grey. And the world pretty near collapsed because of the greedy financial people in 2008.

Suddenly, like light appearing on the first day of Creation, Judy Dyble recorded a new album in 2009. At first, I didn’t even think it could be that same singer from a long ago Fairport. But the sticker included guests such as Simon Nicol, Jacquie McShee, Ian McDonald, Tim Bowness (who wrote some of the music), Pat Mastelotto, and the one and only Robert Fripp. The album, Talking with Strangers, is a wonderful prog-folk-psych album that was the sound of Lazarus, rising from the grave, and asking, “Did I miss anything important while I was gone?” The record was no folky folderol. It contained the nineteen minute workout “Harpsong” that dropped more than a few jaws. Seriously, fans of Crimson take note and enjoy the folk-prog masterpiece.

So now there is a new album, Summer Dancing, which Judy recorded with Andy Lewis. And it’s really a throwback to the sounds of late 60’s recordings, with all the sharpness of a current technology. It’s a bit more dynamic than Talking with Strangers. Although, alas (in the truest sense of the word), there is no wondrous Fripp/McDonald interplay. The first song “He Said/I Said” is just tuneful folk music with a great chorus. And her voice is, if anything, more powerful than it was way back in “If I Had a Ribbon Bow” days. The call and response melody, a slight drone, a few bird chirps, and an Eastern vibe all conjure a friendly conversation from a distant late summer memory. “Up the Hill” is, again, just great folk from a by-gone era. And, despite even more bird calls, this is still urgent music.

My hair suddenly isn’t quite so grey.

A lot of credit must be given to Judy and Andy Lewis for the arrangements. This record is simply alive. Various voices and sundry sounds percolate throughout the songs. “Summer Dancing” is driven by drums, electronic sounds, with a little bit of good old-fashioned banjo. “No Words” is also propelled by drums with an incessant organ that lifts the tune into an obit beyond singer-songwriter hazy daze stuff. “A Message” has a deep base line, and like all the songs, has a vocal that melodically drifts over the instrumentation. The tone shifts for “Night of a Thousand Hours,” which is a piano based bluesy bit of pretty decent lounge jazz.

Music, I suppose, is the one venue that should embrace the unexpected. And “A Net of Memories” may contain the most innovative music on the record. It’s the longest song, clocking in at almost seven minutes. Acoustic sounds shake hands with clever effects. The same is true for other songs like “Treasure,” “Such Fragile Things,” and “Summers of Love.” Yeah, this is good music. And it will appeal to fans of Trees, Spriguns, Dando Shaft, and Mr. Fox. But fans of Fleet Foxes, Espers, Trembling Bells, or even Circulus will find a lot to love in these grooves.

Judy Dyble, one question: Where were you all those missing years?

Now, my one gripe: the song “Tired Bones,” while being a great song, does lift a few notes from the classic 1969 Ralph McTell song “Streets of London". (For true archivists, you should have listened to Al Stewarts’s “Samuel, Oh How You Have Changed” from 1967’s Bedsitter Images.) Yeah, it’s a nice song, but those few notes haunt the tune.

This is a great album. But to (almost) quote Joni Mitchell, “I don’t know where it stands". It’s a throwback to wonderful days. Yet it sounds quite modern. It’s folky. But it is very vital. Yeah, there is a difference between an old familiar bark and the whimpers of a new puppy. I love both. And this album treads that common ground.  Judy Dyble’s voice simply echoes with an absolute beauty that defies any comment about wispy whispers from the past. Heaven only knows how this sort of thing manages to happen every once in a wonderful while. This album is a fine addition to a very interesting resume from a singer who by her own admission is an “accidental musician".

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