JUDEE SILL –  ” Judee Sill ” Classic Album

Posted: November 7, 2022 in MUSIC

From the outset, Judee Sill’s 1971 self-titled album exists at this wonderfully specific intersection of psychedelia and childlike whimsy. Opener “Crayon Angels” contains mentions of the astral plane, magic rings, mystic roses, and phony prophets, and followups “The Phantom Cowboy,” “The Archetypal Man,” and “The Lamb Ran Away with the Crown” all sound like fantastical fables in their lyrics.

Instrumentally, the album ranges from oboes and trumpets to strings to gentle drums and shakers, with Judee’s crystal-clear voice and acoustic guitar as constants. “The Lamb Ran Away with the Crown” bridges the album’s psychedelic nursery rhymes to its more earnest, biblically inspired middle section, including orchestral ballad “Lady-O” and enduring classic “Jesus Was a Cross Maker.” Judee’s voice is stark and unadorned and bears a comfort in its plainness, reminiscent of Peter, Paul & Mary’s music for children; even so, her ability to spin a deeply honest and intimate narrative makes her music perfect for listeners of any age and any time. This album was her first, released when she was 26 after a somewhat troubled childhood and early adulthood rife with drug addiction and a stint in jail. Despite its intricacy (thanks in part to Joni Mitchell engineer Henry Lewy and production by Graham Nash), the album was not a commercial success.

Her struggle with addiction continued through the ‘70s, ramping up as her music career waned. She died of overdose in LA in 1979 at the age of 35. Perhaps the most enduring statement on Judee Sill is the closing trio of “Lopin’ Along Thru the Cosmos,” “Enchanted Sky Machines,” and “Abracadabra,” ebbing and flowing from simple, imaginative ballad to gospel-like anthem to once again orchestral, harmonic masterpiece.

Judee Sill’s self-titled album contains as many layers as she does, and each listen reveals new truths, with one constant: “However we are is okay.”

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