Saturday, 20 November 2010

Bridget St John

A Pocketful Of Starlight – The Best of Bridget St John (CHERRY RED RECORDS, 2010, CD)

The late 60s and early 70s were a great period for female singer-songwriters in Britain. None was more versatile and consistent than Bridget St John. An early signing to John Peel’s Dandelion label, she made three albums for Dandelion and one for Chrysalis which, like those of her contemporary Shelagh McDonald, are of their time but also transcend it.

This is Bridget’s personally selected ‘Best Of’ and it’s a cracker. Her wistful, husky, very English, voice dominates every track, supported by some deft guitar finger-picking. Moods swing from the optimism of ‘Fly High’ to dreams of escaping urban pressure in ‘City Crazy’ and ‘A Day Away’ (the latter adorned with delightful chirruping woodwind), while her stylistic range can accommodate the rocky jamming of ‘If You’ve Got Money’ as well as the chanson manner of ‘Yep’. I’d forgotten how close she was to John Martyn; he turns up as second guitar on several tracks and she delivers luminous, poised readings of two of his songs, ‘Back To Stay’ and (solo from a Peel radio session) ‘The River’. I was less convinced by the one recent track included here, 2001’s ‘The Hole In Your Heart’, suspecting a hint of sentimentality – but that’s small beer beside eighteen tracks of no-longer-buried treasure.

First published in R2 (Rock’n’Reel)

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