No More Sad Refrains — The Anthology
Considered by many to be the best female British folk singer ever, Sandy Denny’s work was far from finished when she died from complications following a tragic fall down a flight stairs at the age of 31. Still, the vocalist/songwriter had accomplished enough in that time to be hailed as a low-key vocal genius by critics and audiences, and this generous, beautifully compiled collection proves why. Boasting 34 tracks — totally two and a half hours of music over two CDs drawn from almost all aspects of her career (her earliest work with the Strawbs is oddly missing), this stunning package is a perfect introduction to the only woman to break into the all-male Led Zeppelin club. In fact, her presence on Zepp’s “Battle of Evermore,” is far from the folk/rock singer’s most glorious moment, although it’s probably her most noted performance. But there’s plenty more, and they’re all here.
Beginning with five tracks from her Fairport Convention years, including the sublime “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?,” this anthology covers every shimmering highlight from four solo albums and various side projects recorded circa 1969-1976. Unfortunately there is nothing from Denny’s terrific posthumously released live disc, or any concert performances at all, but aside from that, you couldn’t ask for a more complete portrait of this artist on two discs.
It’s impossible to adequately describe the sadness, beauty, longing, and yearning Denny infused into every song she sung, but suffice it to say that she’s considered the best British female folk vocalist for a reason, and dropping the CD player on any track here illustrates why. There’s a childish, yet haunting honesty that Denny conveys, which infuses all her material with an understated passion that will send chills down your body. Even when she officially left Fairport Convention after only three albums, many of their members — including guitarist Richard Thompson and drummer Dave Mattacks — backed her on most of her subsequent recordings. Whether rolling out softly acoustic versions of rock and roll oldies from the Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly, singing with full orchestral accompaniment, or reveling in her own transcendent folk rock, Sandy Denny was one of a kind, and this marvelous collection with wonderfully remastered sound and extensive liner notes, is all you’ll need to understand the power and glistening beauty of her voice. Timeless, evocative and totally sincere, Sandy Denny was truly one of the greats.
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