Album Remarks & Appraisals:
A brand new album from acoustic guitarist and folk music living legend BERT JANSCH, his first new album in four years. Lifetime achievement awards are given because of a lifetime of achievements and Bert Jansch has continued to write and record all down the years, creating fresh sounds within the context of traditional music. This essence is fully evident in his fine new release The Black Swan - which, not unlike his first album, was recorded (partially) at home. Additional recording was done and the finished album was produced by NOAH GEORGESON. Features guest appearances from contemporary musicians BETH ORTON, DEVENDRA BANHART, and members of ESPERS and MAZZY STAR.
Rolling Stone (p.72) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "Jansch integrated traditional blues, raga modes, jazzy phrasing and the psychedelic nerve of the British folk revival in a dynamic, orchestral style of fingerpicking."
Spin (p.98) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Jansch himself delivers understated but heartfelt messages of dissent and hope for the post-9/11 epoch."
Entertainment Weekly (p.80) - "Jansch's solo numbers make it clear that his nimble acoustic picking and rueful musings need no accompaniment..." -- Grade: A-
Uncut (p.130) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "With that much-admired but hard-to-emulate guitar technique and a dark, cracked voice that's weathered well, Bert Jansch continues to thrive outside the dictates of time and fashion."
Magnet (p.97) - "Jansch's blend of traditional folk forms, exotic rhythms and contemporary lyrical concerns is built for the long haul."
CMJ (p.38) - "Jansch's exquisite acoustic fretwork on Brendan Behan's prisoner song 'The Old Triangle' and an original, 'High Days,' show why this master impresses Jimmy Page."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.96) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "[H]is strongest album in years....'The Black Swan', augmented by the cello of Espers' Helena Espvall, is a beautiful, evocative piece of music..."
Personnel: Bert Jansch (vocals, guitar, banjo, keyboards); Bert Jansch; Paul Wassif (guitar, slide guitar, banjo); Kevin Barker (guitar, percussion); Rich Good (slide guitar); Maggie Boyle (flute); Pete Newsom (drums); Beth Orton (vocals, guitar); Devendra Banhart (vocals); David Roback (slide guitar); Helena Espvall (cello); Adam Jansch (keyboards); Otto Hauser (drums, percussion); Noah Georgeson (percussion); Espers.
Audio Mixer: Noah Georgeson.
Liner Note Author: Bert Jansch.
Photographers: Bert Jansch; Loren Jansch; Amy Cobden; Lauren Dukoff; Dan Koretzky; Simon Weller; Karie Reinertson.
Arranger: Bert Jansch.
Someone at Drag City gets a gold star for this release. Jumping on the mid-2000s folk explosion, the esteemed indie label goes straight to its British source: Bert Jansch. If there's one man as influential in folk circles as Bob Dylan, it is Jansch. His finger-picking style drastically altered the possibilities for acoustic guitars and influenced nearly every luminary of British folk, including Richard Thompson, Nick Drake, and the Incredible String Band.
As with Vashti Bunyan's 2005 EP with Animal Collective, BLACK SWAN's strength comes from pairing the folk legend with younger followers: Devendra Barnhart, Beth Orton, and Jansch's son Adam. The album's centerpieces focus on Orton, who has saved her best performances for Jansch: the traditional "Katie Cruel" and Jansch's own "When the Sun Comes Up." "High Days" and "A Woman Like You" reveal that Jansch's strengths as a songwriter have not diminished over time.
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