Heartleap is Vashti Bunyan’s third studio album, following 2005’s Lookaftering and 1970’s belated cult classic Just Another Diamond Day. For decades, she had been regarded as a mere footnote to the late-’60s U.K. folk-music scene, in which such peers as Fairport Convention and The Incredible String Band rose to prominence. After her initial discovery by the Stones’ then-manager Andrew Loog Oldham — who had Mick Jagger and Keith Richards write her first single, “Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind” in 1965 — Bunyan went on to have her debut album produced by the legendary Joe Boyd. In the early 2000s, Bunyan — who had given up her career to raise a family — was rediscovered by a new generation of young folk artists who had come to claim her as an influence. Thus, with help from Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart, the “godmother” of the freak folk scene was pushed back into the studio, 35 years later. Heartleap documents the carefully crafted culmination of an obscure yet sublime artist’s probable swan song. (According to the singer, this will be her final release.) From start to finish, the record feels magical; it’s both tender and soothing, with Bunyan’s sweetly melancholic voice floating above layers of guitar, synth, strings, and woodwinds. Herein lies 70 years’ worth of woolgathering and wisdom, and songs that ripple into one another and leave the listener with a sense of deep tranquility. Given the beauty of Heartleap, one can only hope that Vashti Bunyan changes her mind and continues to make new music. Still, if this really is her final statement, Bunyan has left us with yet another jewel-like album to provide many diamond days of listening pleasure.


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