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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 30 December 2006
I've been a fan of Bert Jansch for around 12 or 13 years now, after discovering him very suddenly when given a spare ticket and an invite to one of his live shows in the North of England - I'd heard the name but never the music, and it was a bit of revelation!

Jansch has a style all his own - his guitar work is broken and nevertheless full, full of dazzling runs, hammers and chiming stops (as a semi-professional Jazz guitarist I can assure you of his tremendous skill!). His harmonies and resolutions are unique, and his voice is better described as beautiful than pretty - the fact that he makes it work is testament to his great musical powers!

This album marks a step further into the country influences that have appeared more and more in his work over the years - there is some great slide guitar and some lovely "pickin'" here, and although it doesn't always quite work, this is a soulful and sad album that still leaves you with a great faith in life and love. The lyrics are not always profound, but they are genuine without fail, and always pure Jansch.

The collaboration with Beth Orton is a little disappointing at times - the vocal harmonies they produce together are great, and Beth's voice suits much of the material, but at times it all feels a little too amateur - "Watch the Stars" is a very weak track, and it feels like they only included it because they wanted to sing together, not because it's a worthy inclusion. On the other hand "When The Sun Comes Up" shows Orton at her best, and is one of the standout tracks.

This is one of the best albums from Bert in recent years in my opinion - stripped back to the musical basics that set him apart. The title track is superb, and "Bring Your Religion" is a personal favourite. As usual, the best tracks are those where Bert simply sings and plays his guitar, and the tracks with lots of other instrumentation seldom come close for real feeling - "Texas Cowboy Blues" is a perfect example, very well performed but over-complicated and lacking any atmosphere.

Overall this is a cracking album, and I would highly recommend it to Jansch fans. Those unfamiliar with his work would be better to start elsewhere I think.
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on 26 September 2006
Not only does this album remind me of what an amazing guitarist Bert is, but his song writing too is the best it's ever been. This album is mesmerising, beautiful and just about perfect.

The new talent Bert has worked with (Beth Orton, Devendra Banhart - to name but a few) work perfectly on this beautifully engaging record. The Black Swan is a perfect addition to the Jansch catalogue for those faithful followers and a great introduction to the new folk fans alike.
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on 26 September 2006
This is a beautiful album and a heart-warming return to the scene for one of Great Britain's most influential and important musicians of the 1960's.

if you claim to be a fan of Bob Dylan (who is also enjoying a stunning return to form this year) then this album is vital. If not, then it's still an astonishing album and one of the best releases of 2006 so far.

Definitely worth checking out...a living legend.
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VINE VOICEon 11 August 2008
Ok let's get the guest star issue over with first.

Yes they are wyrdy beardie folkies but speaking as one who loves the lysergic twist this is not a bad thing. Beth Orton has a modicum of beatastic fame and has come out the other side relatively unscathed. The Espers crew know how to spook things up deliciously. Love that Cello. Devendra is just Devendra and keeps things mellow, So far so wyrd,

All of this frippery obviously keeps young Bert atuned to the contempoary ether because this is a fine album. The title song is the best one here; it is a belter and stands in my top 5 Bert tunes (I accept I have not heard all of 304 odd or something but a fair smatterring over the years.) Anyway the hairs on my neck tell me it's a goody.

As regards the vocals - they're rough and ready. They do what they say. On "Katie Cruel" Devendra and Beth work magic but if you are expecting precision singing you've come to the wrong CD.

The beauty and strength of this CD is the diversity of tone even if the moods is maintained. I am not a fan generally of guest stars, figuring that they obscure the main event (Come in Carlos Santana) but here they add and compliment - and it works a treat. At times it is a bit like a fab home made compilation. Bert's playing is spot on and joyful - when compared on a a scale of dourness 1-5, Bert usually ranks just below Gordon Brown - but here he must only be a 3.5.

On "Texas Cowboy USA" is a bass driven polemic about Bush Jnr - yes really! Even the his Bobness should cover this. "Magdalina's dance" an instrumental features the banjo and brings to mind Sufjan Stevens - again contemporary stuff that is rooted in the past. What goes around comes around.

Not everyones cup of tea, granted. Not everyone likes and 18 year old malt. That said, can we arrange a whip round for a new set of ears for those who only gave this less than 5 stars?

I commend this CD to the house.
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This 2006 release from Bert Jansch was his 23rd studio album, and, sadly, his last. It was, however, a magnificent high to go out on.

Right back from his first solo album in 1965, two words could be used to describe Jansch’s albums – beautiful and consistent. And this album is no different, keeping up the quality and delivering a series of gorgeous songs.

I have just listened to this album back to back with his self titled debut from 41 years previous, and it struck me that though Jansch had grown and matured as a songwriter and in his technical ability, there was actually very little difference in his voice and sound, quite remarkable. With other artists this might be seen as stagnation, with Jansch it more that he has come full circle.

It’s an album that seems to sum up his career. There are beautiful songs, in the blues and folk traditions with some nods towards his country influences, sung and played with passion by Jansch and friends (more of them later). And his beautiful, complex, riveting guitar work is featured prominently with his usual inventive, seemingly effortless playing that sends streams of music eddying forth. It’s a gentle album with a mournful air. It features guest artists such as Beth Orton, but their input is both necessary and restrained, giving Jansch centre stage and supporting rather than overpowering him, all the while helping to smooth some of the rough edges (especially vocally) and help deliver a polished gem of an album. It is a little bit of a pity that his old friend John Renbourn was not present, as that would have been truly fitting for the last album of the great man’s career.

It’s a real delight to listen to, as with all of Jansch’s albums. It has to be 5 stars.
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Black Swan is the twenty third studio album by bert Jansch. It is also his last and final album.
It was released in 2006, 41 years after his first album.

It is strangely fitting that this final album should be such a strong and reflective one. It is perhaps Bert’s finest album.

The booklet that comes with the CD has a few words in it by Jansch himself. Something that he didn’t always do. Here are a couple of quotes. “Black Swan is a journey through life,endless and forever. It’s a ship we can all buy tickets for, a fantastic and surreal journey, and may it never end”
“The death of a friend hurts bad, and brings back memories good and bad. Also brings remorse and bitterness set against moments of joy and laughter, The High Days.”
Bert died in 2011 from lung cancer. He may have died but his music carries on.

The songs are some of the best of his career. They touch on elements of love and life.
There is a good acoustic feel to the album with mild instrument decoration. It is a great sound throughout the album and some excellent arrangements.

Joining Bert on the recording are Helena Espvall on cello on The Black Swan the title track, Noah Georgeson on percussion on The Black Swan, and bass on Bring your religion and Texas Cowboy blues. Adam Jansch plays keyboard on The Black Swan and Bring your religion, Beth Orton provides vocals on When the sun comes up, Kate Cruel, Watch the stars, Dave Roback plays slide guitar on when the sun comes up, Otto Hauser plays drums on When the sun comes up, Kate Cruel, Watch the stars, My pocket’s empty, A woman like you and Bring your religion, Paul Wassif plays guitar on My pocket’s empty and A woman like you, he also plays banjo on The Magdalina’s Dance along with Maggie Boyle on flute.

All the songs are by Jansch except for three Traditional pieces. My pockets Empty, Watch the stars and The old Triangle.

This is a fine album. It may be the last studio album but it is definitely one to get.
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I know other's will disagree, but I feel this is a great place to start your journey with Bert. Now that we have lost him, I know there will be a renewed interest in him, so after this album I would probably suggest ' Rosemary Lane ', ' Jack Orion ', ' L.A. Turnaround ' , ' Nicola ', there's also a great Live album available, which was recorded VERY early in his career.

Yet another sad loss to us all, but I know his music is Timeless and with the likes of ' Laura Marling ' Re-introducing Folk music to the masses, this genre of music is in VERY safe hands, hopefully for evermore. R.I.P. Mr Jansch.
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on 26 September 2006
This album deserves all the 5 star reviews its getting. Bert has never sounded so good, this time with a perfect set of collaborators making this album an instant classic that will stand the test of time.

Absolutely brilliant.
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on 21 November 2011
Brilliant. Probably Bert Jansch's best album in our view. What a delight to listen and rekindle memories of a few! years ago. Saw him live within the last 10 years in Devon and he was still as good as ever. What a treat! Highly recommended for Bert Jansch/Pentangle fansThe Black Swan
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on 2 December 2006
This album has some very haunting and beautiful moments, but also sadly some poor tracks. Bert Jansch is a great guitarist and has a distinctive voice but the songs here are hit and miss.

Still worth buying for the title track alone. Investigation of his earlier stuff is also an idea though....
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