For all the accolades, Sandy Denny (1947-1978) remains curiously elusive.
Yet, with growing media interest and the reissue of her entire back catalogue on CD, the signs are that Denny's talent is burning brighter than ever.
She emerged in the mid-Sixties while still a teenager, performing on the folk revival scene where she displayed her mastery of traditional singing before moving onto her own compositions and contemporary material.
She was a leader of the folk-rock movement, a sound she was instrumental in creating.
Whether in her solo recordings or as a member of bands such as the Strawbs, Fotheringay or - most famously - Fairport Convention, her voice speaks to us still in all its resonant purity.
In this book Philip Ward, who has made a close study of the artist, presents a series of personal 'reflections' on her life and work.
He fills in details overlooked by her biographers, surveys recent reissues of her recordings and offers the first in-depth analysis of her songwriting.
He looks back to the public events marking the thirtieth anniversary of her death and assesses her alongside some of her contemporaries. In the author's words, the book is 'a series of experiments' in how to write about the subject.
It concludes with a detailed essay arguing the case that, long before Amy Winehouse or Kate Bush, Denny was the first British female 'singer-songwriter' of international stature.
The book is illustrated throughout, including previously unseen photos.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 144 pages, illustrations
- Publisher: Troubador Publishing
- Publication Date: 07/12/2011
- Category: Folk & traditional music
- ISBN: 9781780880204
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Review by the.ken.petersen
This book is, unashamedly, a celebration of the music of Sandy Denny. It does begin with a brief biography but, even this, omits the bad times. Philip Ward is clearly smitten with Denny and this very nearly tips the book into sentimental fawning. He always, although, sometimes only just, pulls away from this danger and the book certainly made me pull out some CD's that had gathered dust too long.The explanations of Denny's songs, add interesting biographical links which do make the listening more entertaining and, I am sure that most people would agree that it was a tragedy for her life to be cut short, although, of course, an untimely death is helpful in turning a good singer/songwriter into a saint.I am not sure weather it is a compliment to Mr. Ward that his book has lead me to purchase a more conventional biography of Ms Denny, or weather it highlights the omissions of this work. As it was never intended as a definitive biography, I think probably the former: whichever, I thank him for renewing my acquaintance with a superb singing voice.