North London-raised Dyble has often appeared a figure out of time and place in her under-appreciated yet quietly remarkable career. The sleevenotes accompanying this handsomely packaged collection recall former librarian JD sat on the stage edge knitting at scenester hangout The Speakeasy while fellow Fairporter and boyfriend Richard Thompson jammed onstage, with Jimi Hendrix.
It is certainly Dyble’s singular character and unaffected, sure and steady purpose that runs through these tracks. The home recordings age 15, early Fairport demos, hook ups with pre-King Crimson Robert Fripp and post-Them Jackie McAuley are all of a piece with last year’s ravishing Take Me Dancing, the latter a product of her rewarding creative partnership with writer/producer Alistair Murphy.
Despite a prolonged hiatus (child raising and running a cassette duplication business) Judy’s genre-hopping facility across folk, prog, jazz, orch pop and, even, rebel rock is a tribute to her path-less-travelled daring and resilience. Standouts include Better Side Of Me the only surviving gem from her 1971 sessions with Mike Batt and Shining, the classical-enhanced pastoral mystery and loveliness from post-comeback 2006 release Spindle.
Off-piste and experimental gems abound, but the strongest and most compelling material is the most recently recorded (CD3: Onwards). Much of this work has been created away from the spotlight, but through it all Judy’s voice and vision has attained an evanescent lightness of touch and richly layered maturity.
For those yet to make the lady’s acquaintance, discovery is advised and there’s no better place to start.