Enchanted Garden - Reviewed by Richie Unterberger

Enchanted Garden Album CoverAfter an absence of about three decades from the recording scene, Judy Dyble — who sang folk-rock with the original Fairport Convention, the embryonic King Crimson, and Trader Horne in the late 1960s and early 1970s — resurfaced with the 2004 solo album Enchanted Garden. It’s not quite what those who know her name would expect, even though in some respects it’s very consistent with the gentle British folk-rock with which she made her name. Her stately vocals remain intact, and the material — which she co-wrote with several of the musicians who accompany her on the album — is melodically haunting, folky, and lyrically colored by images of dignified nostalgia and contemplation of nature.

It’s the production that will take some folk-rock fans by surprise, as it’s quite immersed in electronic effects and programming, adding synthetic echoes to her vocals and phasing swirls, throbbing beats, and various cascading blipping into the arrangements. Actually most of the accompaniment is played on conventional electric and acoustic instruments, with another figure who first emerged in the late-’60s British rock scene, Simon House (once of High Tide, Hawkwind, and Third Ear Band), contributing violin and some songwriting assistance. But Marc Swordfish’s percussion, keyboards, and programming are the most prominent features other than Dyble’s singing. It results in something like a hybrid of British folk and new age-tinged trance music, and while that’s guaranteed not to please some folk-rock fans, it actually comes off fairly well. Unlike many such efforts by veterans to get in tune with contemporary trends, Dyble and her associates sound at ease with the territory, making it more interesting than many such projects.

Richie Unterberger-