Bert Jansch

Edge of a Dream

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The couple of years leading up to the release of Edge of a Dream found Bert Jansch getting hip again, with former Suede man Bernard Butler and British guitar hero Johnny Marr singing his praises. Butler's on board for this album, but so is (surprisingly, perhaps) Hope Sandoval. For anyone familiar with Jansch outings like 2000's Crimson Moon, there are few surprises. A fair number of new compositions are featured, such as the title track and "All This Remains," but also some old songs like "I Can't Keep from Crying Sometimes" and Richard Fariña's "Quiet Joys of Brotherhood," both of which play to Jansch's strengths. He's not the world's greatest singer by any stretch of the imagination, but he's developed his own quiet way of putting a lyric across. The guests tend to be reverent, as if they're gathered around the feet of the master (which, considering Jansch was recording before they were born, is apt), with the pointed exception of Dave Swarbrick, whose career has been as long as Jansch's (as is Ralph McTell's, whose harmonica work is very graceful), and whose fiddle work is wild and rapturous, a counterpoint to the more contained, shaded styles of the others. It's a carefully arranged record, subdued overall. Jansch himself is never flashy on the guitar (even when he ventures, unusually, onto electric), but he doesn't need to be -- he proved everything years ago. The man is class.

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