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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Judy Dyble's latest...., 2 July 2013
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The latest recording from Judy is another step along the route of musical exploration that she has taken over the years. That route never follows the same path from one record to the next, and Judy has moved on from synthesiser loops ('Spindle', 'Whorl') and explosive King Crimson arrangements ('Talking with Strangers') to a very adult song and vocal style in which piano and strings provide a backing that lies somewhere between chamber music and a full performance by an orchestra.

'Black Dog' conjures up that strange lurking presence of depression or fear to which we are all subject, but reassures us that it's all right to have such sentiments. Just acknowledge the Black Dog and then you can get on. It's a salutary message, gently delivered.

'Featherdancing' recounts the musical childhood of Judy and her two sisters, swinging along in gentle triple time, the sound somewhere between a tea-dance and a French café. The light and airy tune and a cheerful vocal are a buoyant celebration of a time full of music and laughter.

'Beautiful Child (Freya's Song)', dedicated to Judy's grand-daughter, reflects on a new life and the future that it holds, a future on which a grandmother muses with hope and curiosity.

'Crowbaby' depicts the life of a fledgling bird and the challenges that it must meet in a harsh world in which a baby must grow and feed on other creatures. Fortunately, at this stage, Mama Crow is still around to reassure her infant. Pat Mastelotto provides some slightly sinister scratching effects that are extremely bird-like in their insistence. Fripp-like guitar creates an open and empty landscape in which Judy's vocal seeks to calm the small bird before it takes flight into its carrion future.

'Driftaway' is an exquisite reflection on life and partings. It's certainly one of the most beautiful songs that I have ever heard in a lifetime of listening to music of all varieties. It drags at the heart-strings with its gentle melancholy and resignation to the fact that all things must pass. This is certainly the star track of the album.

'Head Full of Stars' is reminiscent of the some of Judy's work on Giles, Giles and Fripp's 'The Brondesbury Tapes' and is very 1960s in its style and arrangement. A light and fanciful number strung on a high-wire of soaring guitar and synthesiser.

'Silence' is a song about intense loneliness. Violin, viola and cello lend an appropriate 'Eleanor Rigby'-style melancholy to the backing, but there is none of the bouncing-triplet jollity of the Beatles' number here. This is a dark and sad song.

'Letters' is cleverly-woven duet between two lovers whose missives have gone astray. Despite positive feelings for each other, the couple are doomed forever to remain apart. Matt Malley provides the male side of the duet, his light and pleasant voice conveying a gentle disappointment in the turn which events that have taken. The fade-out of syncopated drums suggests a degree of chaos thrown into the lives of the participants.

'Wintersong' recounts the memories of a lost love. Gentle reminiscence is accompanied by piano and cello to give just the right level of bitter-sweetness.

It is unusual to find an album in which the cover reflects a song and actually enhances it. The exquisite art-work of Catherine Hyde, Jackie Morris, Hannah Willow and the glass work of Tamsin Abbott adorn the sleeve of the record and its liner notes, and these are celebrated in 'Sisterhood of Ruralists', the collective title of this modern-day creative collective of Pre-Raphaelite-like artists.

Full credit to Alistair Murphy, who produced the record, for his choice of backing musicians and arrangers, as well as his own performances. With musicians from King Crimson, Counting Crows and Spiritualized, among others, you can scarcely go wrong, and Alistair's clear and rich production allows the musicians to shine in their own right.

This is a mature album, a long way from 'Fairport Convention' or 'Morning Way'. Here there is none of the flim-flam of young love, teenage angst or Tolkienesque fantasy. Like 'Talking with Strangers', Judy's previous album, this is a serious depiction of what life brings or throws at you, an album of experience, an album of reflection. It is also an album of moods, some of them dark, others lighter and celebratory. Like most of Judy's albums, it doesn't fit neatly into musical category. Thank goodness! In subject-matter, arrangements and balance, this record shows exactly what Judy is known for, namely originality. Add it to that growing shelf of her recordings.

Ian Maun

July 2013
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Judy Dyble's Stellar New Album, 7 July 2013
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Since her return to the public art of making music, songstress Judy Dyble has released new recordings on a regular basis, each one better than its predecessor. Her latest collection, "Flow and Change", is no exception: A stellar work of intimate, atmospheric reflections on frailty and existence. Dyble's expressive voice, coupled with imaginative musical arrangements, provides each song with an individual character and poignancy that is sorely lacking in much of contemporary music. Furthermore, her lyrical themes are enchanting, a mix of life's wonderment combined with a sense of philosophical maturity. In all, "Flow and Change" is a not only a joy to listen to, it is also a delight for alert minds.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "We murmur deep songs", 8 July 2013
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(Apologies for the length!)

"Flow and change", the follow up to the beautiful "Talking with Strangers" by Judy Dyble, has been released.

I am not going to write a lot about who Judy Dyble is, as there is a glut of information available on the net but I will briefly list the bands that Judy has been involved with, to give an idea of her longevity in music:

King Crimson, Fairport Convention, Giles,Giles & Fripp, Trader Horne, Kings Cross, The Conspirators. She has also had a productive solo career and tends to appear occasionally at Fairport's Cropredy Convention, always receiving a very warm welcome.

SWIRLY, WHIRLY WORDS....

If I were to describe Judy's work to the uninitiated, I would paint a picture of quintessential "Englishness", a singer with fine enunciation and a crystal clear voice. Dig beneath the surface of the initial impression, and you will find a box of delights that surprise, and take you down unknown roads that afterwards you are grateful to have travelled. Amongst the home counties accent and finely woven words which are rich with imagery, there lies more than a sniff of the unexpected, coated in swirls of psychedelia, prog rock and a smidge of folk...

Judy is capable of embracing several genres in one song, as shown on the incredible and epic "Harpsong" from the very well received "Talking with Strangers" album. Her songs often draw you into a contented mellowness and then make you jump and start as a phrase, a solo, or a tempo change knock you out of your passive complacency.
Her ability to embrace so many genres has made her a versatile artist who often says YES to the unexpected, and it takes her to places that we would not expect an artist with her history to go. Her previous works Enchanted Garden, Whorl and Spindle all had elements of prog and psychedelia, but in her two most recent albums, Judy has returned to the singer songwriter genre, where the focus is on rich pictures formed from her stories and words.

THE PROCESS:

Judy is somebody who makes music because she cannot not make music. It is who she is. As she finishes one album, she already has ideas and songs for the next, and although she does not always know who she will be working with or how it will happen, by some form of magic it does. I would suggest that the magic is within her, partly because of *who* she is (she is pretty much folk royalty) and also because of her flexibility. Although she has clear visions of where she wants each song to go, she is not restricted by one genre or one type of production. This gives her an edge and no album is the same.

At 64 years old, Judy shows no sign of stopping. There is no ebb in her songwriting ability and her voice is still crystal clear and beautiful despite her having health problems. She rarely tours, yet each album is eagerly awaited by fans. She is active on social media and various forums, and as a result has a candid relationship with a lot of her fans. Some of them become friends, of which I am one.

Although it could be seen that I am perhaps "influenced" by our friendship as I write this review, Judy knows that I am a very blunt person and if I did not like it then I would say so (but kindly). Regardless of our friendship, she never ceases to amaze me with what she manages to write and create, and seeing and hearing those songs start as demos and become fully fledged tracks is an honour. Judy has often emailed me tracks at their birth which then build and build with each mailing until the final song is born. Watching this process is fascinating.

"FLOW AND CHANGE"

The latest album "Flow and Change" is an emotional album, recreating delicate and emotive tales of lost love, new life and birth, the cycle of nature and the symbolism for loss and memory. Judy revisits her childhood with her sisters in the song "Featherdancing", where she recollects dancing with her sisters:

" Three little girls who danced like small birds, it ended in laughter and breathless disaster, Featherlight dancing to tunes no-one heard".

There is a tone of not only nostalgia running through this album, as well as more than a nod towards sadness. But within the sorrow there is often a little light, a word or a line that makes us feel that everything will be ok in the end. Judy pairs beauty with starkness, gentleness with harshness all wrapped up in the incredible music of Alistair Murphy.

Alistair is a man of many talents, who not only co-wrote this album but produced it too. The intuitive choice of other musicians featured on this, works exceptionally well and when combined with Alistair's excellent production skills, makes for a very beautiful piece of work.

CROWS, DULCIMERS AND ALMOST AN ORCHESTRA.....

I think it fair to say that Judy likes experimenting, exploring different musical genres and often merging them in one song. This could be messy under less skilled hands, but Alistair and Judy nail it totally. This ability is shown in the delicate "Crow baby", the portrayal of innocence and nature with some twist and shock added. In this song, the fledgling life of the baby bird is paired with a sweetly sung lyric:

" Rotting death, will make a feast, Young of others sweeter, Have to grow, you need to eat, feed on little creatures".

The brilliant "Crows are made for staring" is so simple but sums up the bird who sits and watches with an almost sinister unblinking gaze, before it swoops off into the sky. Such a gentle song at first glance, Crow baby is a classic example of a Judy Dyble song, sweetness, vivid imagery and then the crunch that makes you startle. The scratchy intro is uncomfortable and slightly ominous; you expect something nasty to happen. Instead you get a gently building and musically pretty song. The lyrics contrast heavily with the music and I think this is why Judy is so good at creating the unexpected. You just do not expect something so pretty, sung by somebody with such a cut glass accent to sing of rotting death and carrion. But that is Judy, expect the unexpected.

The album features piano played by Alistair Murphy (who is also featured on dulcimer), soaring strings from Steve Bingham and Brenda Stewart, with Pat Mastelotto (He of King Crimson and Mr Mister) on drums. Julianne Regan (All about Eve) also features. Instrumentation includes electric guitar, French horn, cello, lap steel, double bass and the woodwind family.

ALBUM ART (and the sisterhood):

The stunning album art is provided by Jackie Morris and Catherine Hyde, two of the women who make up the "Sisterhood of Ruralists" on the album (the other two being Tamsin Abbott and Hannah Willow). As with most of Judy's songs, there is a story attached and this one is no exception. Judy herself says:

"The Sisterhood of Ruralists came from a gathering of the four artists at my house where the sisterhood was formed after wine was taken... I wrote each of the artists a poem and music was created by Alistair and hence the song was born"

Judy lives in Oxfordshire, in the most beautiful house which befits the musician entirely. The old stone walls wrap around the contents- the wall of vinyl records in the music room, the greyhound statues and autoharps, and the big snuggly sofas. Outside there is a "crystal tree" where many suncatchers hang and spin in the breeze. The garden is cottagey, the house is old enough to remember many stories and there have been many greyhounds living there. In the song "Sisterhood of Ruralists" each artist is given a verse (or two) which captures their essence, all building up via a very "folkie" rhythm to a crescendo of jubilant strings. It is probably my second favourite song on the album (Crow baby being my first) and is a long epic journey suited to the album finale.

SONGS:

Alongside Crow baby, Featherdancing and The Sisterhood of Ruralists, there are 7 other tracks which fit together individually to create a rich tapestry of themes and experiences. The album at times verges on orchestral, such is the presence of the strings, which often take centre stage in a song. These elements seem to emphasise parts of the song at the exact time in which they are most needed, for example breaking the sadness of a verse. Everything about this album is carefully chosen, from the chord changes to the phrases used.

The thread of sadness running thorough the album is palpable.
There is loss portrayed wistfully in the song "Wintersong" which is one of the tracks that made me cry even when I heard it in a demo form. It still does! In this song, we can all relate to the loss of something or somebody that we loved. The song evokes pictures of great longing and the yearning for the touch of the departed loved one. The bass, horn and cello add to the melancholy but as with most of Judy's "sad" songs, there are chinks of hope.

Loneliness is described in "Silence", the tale of a lady who lives alone but yearns for companionship. In the song the person says goodnight to her online friends - "the friends she has never seen". The rich string section appears to be trying to fill the void felt by the protagonist in the song.

"Driftaway" also has an element of sadness, and yet most of Judy's songs could never be described as remotely depressing. The sad and painful themes seem softened by the qualities of her voice:

"We knew that time stood still to let us be, Together in that moment, calm and free, Just a timeless kiss of gold among the grey, That we have shared till we drift away"

When you consider that Judy lost her beloved husband Simon some years ago, the songs take on a new meaning. But even those regretful words and that poignant theme seem to become tolerable in the mixture of music and vocals which lull and comfort the listener.

"Beautiful Child (Freya's song)" - is a stunning dedication to Judy's young granddaughter, full of love and the wonderment of a whole life to explore. How lovely for Freya to have a song written by her Grandmother! The song is an innocent declaration of love and hope.

"Black Dog Dreams" is the album opener, and is of course about depression, the black dog that sits at our heels in our darkest times. Despite the title and theme, the song is far from miserable, with the reassurance given that the Black Dog is perhaps not to be feared:

" Let me sit at your feet, While you pour out your tears, There is no one around, Who will laugh at your fears. You can call out my name, in the depth of your pain, You know I will answer, Black Dog is my name".

"Head Full of Stars" is a song which depicts two characters, each beguiling for different reasons. It is one of the songs which features Julianne Regan on backing vocals, the perfect duet of clear voices. The chorus is optimistic and catchy and reminds me of some of the songs that appeared on "Whorl" and "Spiral".

Finally, "Letters" features Matt Malley sharing the vocals. The song begins with Judy speaking as if she were writing to a hoped-for lover. Gentle piano accompanies the vocals which then swap to Matt. The man in the song never receives the letters, and so the romance remains unrequited. Both sing of their hope, their loss and wait for the other to contact, assuming that neither is very interested. "Would be lovers" that never had the chance to be. This song is reminiscent of "Grey October Day" from the Talking with Strangers album.

The album finishes with the epic "Sisterhood of Ruralists", rounding off another work of art in which you get to know many parts of Judy's life, hopes and dreams.

ORDER OF TRACKS:

1/ Black Dog Dreams
2/ Featherdancing
3/ Beautiful child (Freya's song)
4/ Crow baby
5/ Driftaway
6/ Head full of stars
7/ Silence
8/ Letters
9/ Wintersong
10/ The Sisterhood of Ruralists

AUDIENCE:

This album would appeal to anybody who enjoys woven words and stories, gentle songs with soft strings that rise up to fill the room with exuberance, and those who have a soft spot for a "proper song" ie built up from bare bones, birthed by various musicians and then produced by a very skilled man who seems to intuitively know what each song needs. The finished product is polished, fragile in places and abundant in others. It is a musical journey in the true sense of the word and one that requires real listening to absorb all of the various elements and layers. I recommend darkness lit by candles, a roaring fire, a squishy chair and then put this on. Close your eyes, and you will be taken on a journey that is unpredictable and joyous.

CONCLUSION:

The album is beautiful and is another treasure from Judy. I cannot imagine this receiving bad reviews, instead I think it will delight many. Like its predecessor "Talking with Strangers", Judy manages to capture scenarios that we can all relate to, and convey emotions to us so that we feel the words. 10/10 for beauty, creativity and production.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Needle weave, 9 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Flow and Change (Audio CD)
This album has rarely left the CD player of my car since I bought it. Fortunately I live and work in rural landscapes and it is an astonishingly welcome companion on my journeys.
Songs with subject matter from decades apart sit on adjacent tracks: `Letters', the tragedy of a follow-up greeting from two people who have only just found each other in an era when the only mail was Royal, anticipates the nightly farewell to unmet online friends in `Shadows'; like the two versions of Lady Pole at Starecross Hall, `Silence' (the one in an ivory-coloured dress) and `Head Full of Stars' (the other in blood-red evening gown with jewels or stars in her dark hair) reflect their different distance.
`Flow and Change' dances through the last few decades of music with nods to Jimmy Webb and Clifford T Ward that sit totally comfortably alongside something very contemporary. Phil Toms' string arrangements are happily reminiscent of John Cameron's and George Martin's; they work perfectly where they have to, as does Alastair Murphy's beautifully evocative music.
If you haven't yet done so, after playing this album revisit an album by King Crimson, preferably one with the evergreen `I Talk To The Wind', after which you hear `Flow and Change' differently, King Crimson becoming the enhancer.
`Flow and Change' is a most remarkable album, a tour de force with its final eleven minute track, revisiting musical themes in the previous nine with an intricately woven patchwork of lyrics, inspired by the quiltlike quartet of artists, whose artwork and illustrations adorn the album cover and booklet, taking you into yet another media for expressing the tanglewood emotions.
Reviewers elsewhere have described the album as `soothing' and `melancholic', but I find it arresting and challenging. The reconciliation of lost letters, lost loves, lost childhood to new hopes, the granddaughter, the sisterhood of Ruralists, the birth of the magic of their art, plus the ever present sense that there is more than oneself watching events with a dark impersonal eye ("Crows are made for staring"), is deeply impassioned and thought provoking. The past is not easily being reconciled to the future; souls indifferently separated do not always survive intact.
I have seen `Flow and Change' labelled as `bitter sweet' by more than one online review, but this is too simple a description; `Flow and Change' is far more complex than that.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Album with depth, 23 Sept. 2013
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Those who know Judy's work since Fairport will know that it is never shallow pop music, she has an unique voice that she uses to put over songs in a way that leaves you in no doubt that they were written from somewhere deep inside her, this album is no exception it contains songs of Love, isolation, loss, joy, heartache and missed opportunity. It has a strong sense of honesty. Like all of Judy's solo work it takes some time to sink in to your heart and a number of listens before you find that parts of it are lodged in your mind and have very slightly changed your world view. Sometime in the distant future, something will happen or someone will say something and I will think," Wasn't there a song on that Judy Dyble album about this" songs that stay with you long after they have ended!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful album, 22 Aug. 2013
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Music that is magically inspired to sooth the soul and take you to a place out of the realms of the mundane world. A beautiful album and highly recommended.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful melancholy music, 4 Aug. 2013
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I confess I had not heard of Judy Dyble, although I like folk music, but a friend recommended it on Facebook so I listened. I liked it so I bought it. Apart from discordant effects on the first track (which are appropriate for the theme, I realise!), it is beautiful - clear, melodious singing with good orchestral backing. The songs have a mature and melancholy theme.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gentle meditative Judy, 3 Aug. 2013
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B. Hutchins (cornwall) - See all my reviews
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I will not go into Judys achievements as they have been ably covered by other reviews here, but I confess to being a fan from the early days and have waited for her to produce an album such as this.
I must say I enjoyed every track on this album, although I do have a favourite "Wintersong" which with the simple accompaniment
brings out the quality of her voice. I now actually find myself looking forward to the winter and a cosy fire with which to enhance this album even more.
I recommend it highly.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have, 12 July 2013
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Judy Dyble is the queen of folk music.
For more then 40 years she is with us - from Fairport convention, King Crimson early days( I talk to the wind ) through the magical Trader Horne and her solo albums. Her last album was superb and now she aomes back with this quiet haunting beautiful album. The lyrics are fantastic and her unique voice make every song a jewel. Some of the songs are personal and al in all I had tears in my eyes some from joy some from the lyrics. Love this album. So will you.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Roger1, 20 Sept. 2013
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Estimated delivery was in 2 parts, firstly 30/8/13 to 7/9/13 and then a new set of dates of 28/8/13 to 30/8/13 and it was actually here on 27/8/13, so ahead of either estimate. The order added to a copy of a Judy Dyble CD I already had, so I now have 2. Interesting music but not a performer I have seen and heard live.
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