Vyvienne Long is a boldy inventive creator of silken riches and Don’t Let Go, the opening track of this, her first live album strikes a bold pose, with staccato drama. The song draws the listener right in, building itself around a repeated cadenza, as a lover is requested to be gentle about his leaving. “We had a lifetime to feel the sun," the singer mourns, realising the thing is almost over. It is indeed a moving, elegaic image, not feeling the rays of the sun together any more, although everything seemed to point that way once.
Aside from heartfelt love songs, Long’s vivid musical imagination has dreamt up a kind of serpentine garden of delight. Some of the work suggests some weeks of her childhood were spent with Beatrix Potter.
One certainly speculates as to what inspired the curious bestiary in Happy Thoughts. “Think happy thoughts ‘til bad ones go by," goes the chorus in a song which asks pertinent questions such as the following: “Why do the red foxes go pulling off the badger’s socks?” Many of us have lost sleep at night just trying to answer that one. There are further important questions about snakes, sheep, blackbirds, beehives and antelopes.
Always Late mixes innate vulnerability with the slightest hint of impishness. Always late with her finished record, or always late to meet someone? Either could apply, it's nicely ambiguous. This is one of Vyvienne’s very best songs, which viewers of the TV series Raw may recall.
A careful lyricist, Long enunciates her songs with striking clarity. It is important to her that her words are heard and that the sound pictures fire in her listeners’ imaginations. The quietly reflective If You Ever Regarded Me shows a formal poetic skill. There are two satirical songs about money. The uptempo Money Stuff is about trying to get by, while greed is explored in She Can’t, The Inheritance, which has a vaguely Weimar Cabaret/Marlene Dietrich feel.
Continuing the German theme, the catchy Kraftwerk-sounding They’re Not Waving precedes the final track, a beguiling version of Lennon/McCartney’s And I Love Her. Do not miss the charm, excitement and canny pop instincts of Vyvienne Long. www.vyviennelong.com