Judy Dyble was best known for her work on the first Fairport Convention album. From then on, she moved to Giles, Giles and Fripp, where, together with Ian McDonald, she went on to record some demos for some future King Crimson compositions, which later turned up on A Young Person’s Guide to King Crimson. She also worked in a duo called Trader Horne. Judy left the musical scene in 1973 and except some appearances here and there didn’t return until the new millennium, when she started releasing solo albums.
Talking with Strangers is the fourth in the series of these new releases by Dyble. Being familiar of Judy from her Fairport Convention days, I have to admit that I wasn’t prepared for what was awaiting me on this recording.
The proceedings get on their way with some fairly harmless folk music, with Judy’s beautiful voice. The autoharp soon makes its grandiose appearance, while Bowness and Murphy also lend their talents. With a cover of ELP’s C’est la Vie, I was starting to wonder if perhaps Judy was running out of ideas, but these thoughts were quickly dispersed by the next few charming numbers. Grey October Day gives us yet another side of Judy and ends “side A” on a jazzy note.
While that would have been enough to satisfy my appetites for new Dyble material, she had more tricks up her sleeve. Being a fan of prog rock for more than 15 years, I’m a sucker for a good epic. And they don’t come much better than Harpsong! The beginning makes you think it’s going to be yet another lovely folk song, but the second part really takes us into progressive overdrive, with parts reminiscent of 70s King Crimson (also 21st Century Schizoid Man), a feeling made even stronger by the reunion of Dyble’s companions from her Giles, Giles and Fripp days, namely Robert Fripp and Ian McDonald, whose contributions are clearly felt and make a huge impact.
From the smooth folk rock of the beginning, to the slightly jazzier Grey October Day and the full-blown progressive rock epic of Harpsong, this album does no wrong. I hope Talking with Strangers is just the start of Judy’s return because this clearly shows Judy had no business walking away from music in the first place. Judy, we want more!
9 out of 10.