After Living In The Shadows Part One, a collection of Bert Jansch’s 1990s works, this welcome sequel contains a grand total of 46 recordings made between 2000 and 2006. It consists of three studio albums (Crimson Moon; Edge Of A Dream; The Black Swan) together with an additional disc of demos and unreleased material.
As well as documenting the final work of this iconic Scottish artist as he entered his sixties, the collection demonstrates the man's high standing in the musical community. You only need to look at the impressive list of contributing musicians to see just how influential and highly regarded he remains.
The weakest of the three albums to my ear is Crimson Moon, originally released on Castle Music in 2000. This is primarily a collection of twelve lonesome blues tunes all sung in understated fashion by Jansch and all sounding a little too much like one another. The laid back feel makes it best suited for chilled-out late night listening.
Edge Of A Dream is a decidedly more dynamic and varied set of tunes beginning with the unlikely entreaty to "Rock baby rock" on the title track.
Jansch's vocals are altogether more robust despite lyrics that speak of "sorrow everywhere" on La Luna and an admission that I Cannot Keep From Crying.
The greater variety is helped by guest vocals from Hope Sandeval and Loren Jansch on All This Remains and The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood respectively.
Additional spice comes from instrumentals Gypsy Dave, with Dave Swarbrick on violin, and Black Cat Blues featuring fine slide guitar work by Paul Wassif. The closing song about "the day the World Trade Center fell"(Bright Sunny Morning) adds a note of topicality.
The Black Swan, co-produced and mixed by Noah Georgeson, was originally released on Drag City in 2006. Jansch's 23rd studio release sadly proved to be his last but it nevertheless has a remarkably freshness and shows that he clearly relished working with a new generation of admirers.
Beth Orton sings lead vocals on three songs and instrumental highlights include Helena Espvall on cello for the title track, more of Paul Wasslf's inspired slide guitar on A Woman Like You and Maggie Boyle's lyrical flute playing on Magdalina's Dance. There's even space for some uncharacteristic humour on the George Bush baiting Texas Cowboy Blues.
Finally, disc 4 (The Setting Of The Sun) presents seven home-recorded demos including a marvellous instrumental version of Katie Cruel. Two of the four unreleased tracks (It Don’t Bother Me and Cocaine) are performed with Johnny Marr. Chambertin is a collaboration with Gordon Giltrap while the fourth previously unreleased track is an solo untitled solo instrumental.
Over the years there are plenty of slapdash, cash-in compilations of Jansch's work but this box set, like its predecessor, is a labour of love. Liner notes come courtesy of Bernard Butler and Bert’s son Adam, and there's a comprehensive listening guide by Dave Henderson.
In short, this is an exemplary package for new and old fans alike.
Bert Jansch's official website