Hearing the song Autumn Lullaby not long ago and really liking it, I decided I should check out more music by Bridget St John, and this became my starting point.
Songs For The Gentle Man is a very mellow album, that reads like a love-letter. Bridget's voice is slightly husky and has a dulcet calm about it, her lyrics are heartfelt, playful and sometimes sad, whilst the instrumentation is generally soft, lots of guitar accompanied by assorted textures, with occasional lively detours utilising sprightly strings, splutters of oboe and florets of flute, that elaborate upon tunes that might otherwise be very similar-sounding. At her best, when she sings nothing else matters, as on Early Morning Song, a fleeting song that simply portrays waking up and anticipating the day. Now and then my mind wanders, I know that she was highly regarded and I wish I could feel the enthusiasm other people do more consistently, but keeping that in context there are several tracks that I like a lot, such as Song For The Laird Of Connaught Hall - Part Two, while others that initially didn't stand out are now growing on me. My favourite track on the album is Making Losing Better, simply gorgeous and sad, with lulling shadowed Spanish-inflected guitar-work. The cover of John Martyn's Back To Stay is really nice too and unusually employs celestial organ, adding to the calm.
I see the influence of Donovan and Leonard Cohen, not to mention Joni Mitchell (especially on the lively Seagull-Sunday, which takes more than a sneak-peek at Joni's blueprints, and the unusual The Lady And The Gentle Man, made peculiar by a brass band who sound like they were playing in slow motion and had their minds on other things). I can appreciate that the ideas and input of Ron Geesin are integral to the whole. I also have a recurring feeling I'm listening to June Tabor, which I have to snap myself out of periodically.
This edition is very attractively packaged with detailed liner notes, archive photos and lyrics, helping to set the scene for those of us new to this gently alluring album.