Bridget St. John – Back To Stay

• “Back To Stay” set to a picture of the housing album cover. Thanks to bobbyscrumptious.

8.3 “Fantastic Folk from England”

From her second album “Songs For The Gentle Man” (Dandelion Records DAN-8007) released in 1971.

For some strange reason I always feel kinda’ guilty about selecting a cover version as my album favourite – Bridget writes 10 fine songs out of the 12, whilst selecting tunes from the catalogues of John Martyn (“Back to Stay”) and Donovan (“The Pebble And The Man”) to keep herself amused. As you can hear, her treatment of the former is especially gorgeous.

My album review:

Bridget St. John only ever sings songs that she can relate to; songs that mean something to her; songs that come from her own experiences. Based on the evidence from her first 2 LPs, I can tell that in real life she is a gentle and lovely soul. These are early morning sleepy tunes that roll from your head as you fall out of bed to discover the day. As with her debut set, hushed melodies are prevalent, as is her trademark low-register acoustic-guitar-based delivery. This time around, however, she almost has a co-star in the Scottish-born avant-garde producer, Ron Geesin. The added cellos, flutes, bassoons, violins and horns are interwoven sympathetically – it’s a job well done. Speaking of the two-year gap since her debut, Bridget explained:

“There had been talk of my doing an album with Paul Samwell-Smith, but all that fell through and I was pretty sad as a result. It took me a long time to prepare the material and work everything out and after I’d given him the rough tapes, everything fell through, and I was left at a bit of a loose end. As it happened, everything worked out very well, because Ron Geesin produced the album and made a beautiful job of it as far as I was concerned. I knew Ron as a friend, and I just asked him if he would do it much to everybody’s horror because they all associated him with weirdness and didn’t think for one minute that he had the delicacy to handle the kind of songs I’d got ready to record. But that freaky stuff is only one facet of his music, the part that he chooses to project on stage, and I knew that he was capable of much more—for instance he’d just completed the music for ‘The Body’ and ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ and some of that was just beautiful. Apart from one song, “The Lady and the Gentle Man”, which I don’t really like at all any more, that album turned out exactly as I wanted it to I think Ron put in some lovely work on it. At the time, he had his own studio, and I used to go round there and we’d discuss each song I’d go over it, and he’d note the chord shapes and so on, and then I’d leave it to him to arrange, so that when I next saw him, he’d have the arrangement all ready to record. That was very satisfactory from my point of view, and things worked out very well.”

You can check out the rest of my album reviews for 1971 here.