Folk music is as much of a mystery to me as jazz music, which is exactly whey I’m so glad I have included it in this process. Today’s album is “Bert Jansch”, by Scottish folk singer Bert Jansch, and even though it is the #1 album on nme.com’s Top 10 Folk Albums of all time, I will fully acknowledge that prior to creating this list, I had never even heard of Bert Jansch.
I picked the perfect setting to listen to this album, a crisp walk through the sunny country of Virginia on a warm (finally) March afternoon. My home here is not too far from the Appalachian Trail, and this would be perfect music for a sunny day reaching the clearing at the top of one of our local inclines. Similar to early Bob Dylan, the album is just Bert and his acoustic guitar, although there is much more emphasis on the guitar on this album. There are several songs that are instrumental only, including the most listened to song on the album, “Angie”. Like me, you might be wondering if this is in any way related to the Rolling Stones song of the same name… it is not. It is just really beautiful solo guitar with a descending main melody blended in with crisp, clean solos. “Finches” and “Veronica” are two other simple guitar melodies that are highlights on this album. Knowing his Scottish origin and his simple country approach on this album, I can’t help but wonder if his music was contemplated when Led Zeppelin disappeared to the hills of Wales to a cottage name Bron-Yr-Aur to create the mostly acoustic sounds of Led Zeppelin III.
Jansch’s voice is simple and mid-range, with just a touch of the Scottish accent shining through. As I often create a scenario in my mind when listening to music, I picture myself working my way down a trail in the woods, reaching an isolated cabin where a solo performer plays away on the front porch with a smile as sunlight peeks in through the canopy of leaves. I may have never heard of Bert Jansch before, but this hiking soundtrack will be with me from this point on.