In the last couple of years Vashti has performed her first live set in over three decades at the Royal Festival Hall; duetted with Devendra Banhart on his Rejoicing In The Hands album; recorded with Piano Magic; sung on a Simon Raymonde collaboration, and with Animal Collective on their Prospect Hummer EP; and recorded a new album for Fat Cat, with guest appearances from the likes of Joanna Newsom and hopefully the arranger Robert Kirby. She has been cited as an influence by a whole new generation of young performers of avant folk and has a higher profile than she has had since her initial emergence on a single produced by Andrew Oldham and in TV appearances for Ready Steady Go! in 1965. Reviews of the single, Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind, a Jagger/Richard song which the two Stones had initially placed with Dick and Deedee the year before, variously described her as "the new Marianne Faithfull" and the "female Bob Dylan."
The reason for all this renewed activity was the re-issue in 2000 (2004 in the US) to great acclaim of her only album, Just Another Diamond Day, which had originally crept into the shops in 1970, without fanfare or promotion. "Nobody seemed to give it a second thought when it was released", says Vashti on her website, "In fact it was not really released, it just edged its way out, blushed and shuffled off into oblivion. I abandoned it, and music, forever as I went on to travel more with horses and wagons, with children and more dogs and chickens."
However, in the intervening years it has become regarded as a cult classic, with vinyl copies passing hands among collectors for ever increasing sums. When Vashti learned of this from the internet, she began the long process of collecting and collating the old masters, doing the legal stuff and finally getting the album made available on the Spinney label, together with some additional earlier bonus tracks.
The circumstances of the creating of the album are extraordinary and integral to its unique quality. After a trying couple of years recording for Columbia and Immediate to little effect, she simplified her style to just her and her Martin guitar. Donovan suggested she visited an artists' colony he was setting up on the isle of Skye and advanced her £100, and she, boyfriend Robert and dog Blue duly set off from Sidcup in July 1968 on a two-year adventure of magic, hardship and odd-jobbing, in an old green wagon towed by a horse called Bess (punctuated by a brief tour performing in the pubs of Belgium, and the odd train trip to London with songs for subs from new producer Joe Boyd). All the way, the songs she was writing were of what she was experiencing on her pilgrimage. "The songs were the dreaming in verges of grimy roads," she writes, and it is these songs, borne of the lifestyle of blood, sweat and rose hips that she found herself adopting, that make up the unique document that is this album. When Vashti reached Skye, the artistic renaissance had not taken seed and Donovan was in the process of leaving, so she continued to the Outer Hebrides with a virtually complete portfolio of music.
She eventually travelled back down to London, in a Morris Minor called the Kettle since it regularly boiled over, to record the album at Sound Techniques in November 1969, with Christopher Sykes and John James on keyboards. Joe Boyd had invited Robin Williamson of the Incredible String Band to add fiddle, mandolin and Irish harp on three tracks, and from Fairport Convention, Dave Swarbrick to add fiddle and mandolin and Simon Nicol to add banjo on three others. Robert Kirby, well known for his work with Nick Drake, arranged string quartet and recorders on a further three.
Although very much of its period, the record has a beauty that stems from its unashamed purity and freshness, and is all the better for telling a true and unrepeatable story. Following its re-release The Observer Music Monthly listed it at 53 in their Top 100 British Albums list