The liner notes of this first time CD edition of two mid-80's vinyl albums from folk vocalist Loren Auerbach explain how this memorable collaboration with Bert Jansch led on a winding path through the intervening years to recent marriage. One can hear sparks of muses co-mingling betwixt the Icelandic poetry graduate student-turned-unsteady-vocalist and the diving swallow grace notes of Jansch's steelstring guitar. Most of the material is written by producer Richard Newman, and is very nearly up to the quality of Jansch's handful of originals that reflect depths he'd never had a chance to show on his previous repertoire of English Isles folk standards.
This is clearly a very personal project, and I feel the intimacy and emotional risk every time I play the feverish songs, which has been often during this past rainy season.
The song that haunts me deeper each time I hear it is "Give Me Love." It would be on any tape I'd blend to commune with beauty being approached slowly, or held at a distance. It's visceral power recalls Wendy Waldman's torch ballad "Mad Mad Me", and Auerbach's far less agile voicing makes me wish other vocalists would try recording "Give Me Love" without changing the simple arrangement. Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star has been recording of late with Jansch, and her breathey sensual approach and huskier vocal timbre might draw some luster from the song's facets. It'd be intriguing to hear whether a male vocalist could handle the surrender to yearning limned by "Give Me Love", but after hearing Danny O'Keefe's arcing glissando on his recently released "Pieces of the Rain" I find myself wanting to hear these two songs threaded together through an extended suite grounded in a "Bolero" cadence of hypnotic attraction.
Other songs that blossom with occasional cello to add some body behind Auerbach's edgy voice include "Is It Real?", "Christabel", "Carousel" (where Jansch's guitar takes up all the slack), and the powerful closing set of "So Lonely" and "The Miller."
These 15 tracks amount to a well-realized project by an artist who seems to have left performing behind. I'd be interested in hearing Loren Auerbach try her hand at collaborating with Jansch on some of her own verse, or the Icelandic stuff the liner notes say she translates.
By Mitch Ritter