Review of The Black Swan Album by Bert Jansch

Bert Jansch
The Black Swan
Album Review

Bert Jansch The Black Swan Album

It's a big year for the 'return to form' of the old folkies, and Bert is about as old as they get. But, just as Dylan's Modern Times is actually a triumph of rose-coloured glasses over reality, so is the idea that The Black Swan is terribly relevant today. With over 40 years in the business beginning in 1965 with solo albums, and then with Pentangle as well, Jansch has always been held up as a guitarist's guitarist - an amazing fingerstyle folk player. What he's not, however, is a great singer or lyricist (even by Dylan standards).

A couple too many of the songs are sub-Dire Straits rock folk, but on the songs where there is great promise of some haunting folk, the effect is spoiled because you really do have to get past the voice, and that's just not easy. In an environment where many singers are forgiven (Richard Thompson, Neil Young), this album suggests that is solely because of the quality of their songs. The album is spoiled further by the inclusion of the equally poor Devendra Banhart. If only a good singer had fronted this album, it may well be for more than just the dedicated Jansch fan.


Mike Rea