Sandy Denny,
No More Sad Refrains:
The Anthology

(A&M, 2000)

There will always be musicians out there who you know are at the top of their game, masters of the craft who should not be missed -- and yet you never really find the time to explore their musical gifts. In my case, my sin of omission was Sandy Denny, whose music I knew solely through her work in two incarnations of Fairport Convention -- a passing acquaintance at best. Now, through the two-disc anthology No More Sad Refrains, I finally know just how good Denny was.

Tragically lost to the world in 1978 at the early age of 31, Denny continues to make her presence felt in the music industry. Her strong vocals set a high standard for others to follow, and she remains a prime example of the consummate singer-songwriter. This anthology introduces listeners to music from throughout her 10-year career, and it leaves you aching for more.

The anthology isn't really for Denny enthusiasts. Most of them will already know this music by heart. But for those of us newly come to her altar, this set is a treat -- an excellent introduction to some truly magical songs and a truly gifted voice. And with 34 tracks totaling 2 1/2 hours of music, there's a lot to learn.

There are several songs here from her Fairport years, as well as with the bands Fotheringay and The Bunch; most of the selections are from four albums during her solo career. Some tracks are readily available elsewhere, while others are harder to find. Much of this music is melancholy, but Denny's voice is true and resonates with emotion. Denny was clearly a timeless talent, and her gifts are fortunately still around to enlighten those of us who were late for the ride.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 22 June 2002

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