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Published: 2004/12/31
by Jesse Jarnow

Just Another Diamond Day – Vashti Bunyan

Spinney 001
Vashti Bunyan’s recently reissued 1970 album Just Another Diamond Day is being sold as a lost folk-psych classic and, sure, you could make a good case. Ornate orchestrations fill out Bunyan’s Anglo lullabies, strings and bells placing Bunyan square in the middle of the swirling British countryside. ‘The rain and the snow fall on the seeds and make them grow,’ she sings on Where I Like To Stand,’ ‘fall onto the rocks and make them crack into pebbles and into sand,’ internal rhymes careening inside the trickling melody like echoes in a picturesque wishing well.
At the same time, it’s totally ridiculous, of course: the obscure blueprint for dozens (if not hundreds) of cosmic naval-gazers from Nick Drake to Beck’s surprisingly sincere Sea Change. Like the latter album, the enjoyment of Just Another Diamond Day is probably vastly aided by being in an appropriately mopey mood with appropriately mopey weather and the like — ‘cause otherwise, you might have a tough time hanging at the ‘stonebuilt farmhouse,’ with ‘the fair-haired farmer,’ and ‘the pine tree tall’ of ‘Rainbow River.’ That’s not a bad place to go sometimes, but maybe not every afternoon.
Mood aside, Bunyan’s melodies – that bit of music that might be extracted from sonic context – are genuinely beautiful. Whether he did it consciously or not, Stephen Malkmus ripped the wistfully laconic melody (and lyrical structure) of "Spit On A Stranger" off of Just Another Diamond Day’s title cut, which says at least as much about the melody’s durability as it does about Malkmus.
But, y’know, it’s hard to put the mood aside because it’s done with such archetypical perfection. As such, it takes a fair dose of the Pavement founder’s goofball ‘tide to balance out Bunyan’s seriousness — the hipster equivalent of the suspension of disbelief principle that ticks behind every majestically choreographed bit of Jerry Bruckheimer-produced mayhem. Just Another Diamond Day coulda been a blockbuster and Vashti Bunyan coulda been a contender.

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