Bridget St. John released her debut album in 1969 on John Peel’s Dandelion records. It was produced by Peel and recorded in two five hour sessions. John Martyn played on two songs including singing and playing on the title track. It was Peel’s “brainstorm” to put birds and church bells in the middle of this song, fading in the twittering and ringing and then fading the music out for a whole minute before slowly fading the music back in over these suggestive sound effects. You can listen to Bridget talk about it and Peel’s contribution via the link below.
The album is a masterpiece of husky melancholic dark Folk. It has you chasing butterflies whilst weaving a shroud, squinting at the sun in a shaded meadow, longing for companionship from the satisfaction of lonely sorrow, forgetting fond memories.
Her voice is strangely similar to Nico (if she was nice) but this darkness doesn’t come from heroin or misanthropy, but rather from old tales, mysteries of nature, of love and the black fertile soil. The songs are executed through articulate dead, dry fingerpicking as if the strings were never changed on the guitar, no reverb or ringing sparkle, just the sound of dusty books and warm pages. Evocative titles abound, it’s hard not to surrender to a song called The Curious Crystals Of Unusual Purity.
Bridget St. John made three albums for Dandelion – Ask Me No Questions (1969) Songs For The Gentle Man (1971) and Thank You For… (1973) before the label folded due to lack of commercial success, a further album for Chrysalis (Jumble Queen) was released in 1974 before St. John disappeared from the music scene for 20 years. A compilation of songs, Take The 5ifth (consisting of songs recorded between 1975 and 1982) appeared in 1996. St. John sporadically appears and disappears as she chooses, her legacy is a rich catalogue of a golden era for folky British singer-songwriters.
This is a previous article from the In Deep Music Archive about Bridget St. John: