Yvonne Lyon, Stewart Henderson and Carol Henderson – Vesper Sky

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 4/5

Yvonne Lyon is a powerful singer and songwriter. Stewart Henderson is a poet songwriter and someone who has long influenced Lyon’s writing. Carol Henderson is a storyteller, broadcaster and radio dramatist. This is a meeting of minds, a meeting of idioms and a meeting of voices. On paper Vesper Sky by Stewart Henderson, Yvonne Lyon and Carol Henderson is a disparate collection. Stewart and Carol are both poets, while songwriter Yvonne Lyon delivers sophisticated acoustic music. In actuality the three performers and their material connects and the different flavours combine and contrast beautifully. The first two tracks, “After the Fall” and “Vesper Sky” written by Stewart and Yvonne, sung by Yvonne are rich folk country, with Seonaid Aitken’s lovely violin to the fore and Lyon’s vocals just flying. “How Clatter the World”, a trio composition, is spoken by Carol over pulsing textures, piano and atmospherics and is melancholic but arresting. “Eyes Down” and “Considering the Hours” fine poems by Stewart Henderson. Rhythmic and crackling with energy and tension, song like with the repeated refrain about phones and screens in “Eyes Down” they sit well with the earlier pieces. “The Avenue” is part spoken poem, part poignant piano ballad by Yvonne channelling Aimee Mann or Jane Siberry. The voices, separate but together echo and follow with great feeling, playing with the form of both song poetry. “Under a Wolf Moon” is a divine song written by Yvonne and Stewart, fine vocal and guitar by Yvonne. Against minimal backing, Yvonne’s voice and phrasing just shines through. “Poem Breakages”, is thoughtfully read by Carol Henderson, has a cadence, rhythmic lollop and repeated line, all appear song like in this context. Stewart Henderson’s tongue in cheek delivery and a smile raising lyric on “Perfect Fit” is held in check by a wonderful Country slide guitar. Demonstrates that wry Country is a close cousin to performance poetry. “Children Mind Your Language”, is a glorious Hymn to inclusion and the barrier free shared space that is the playground. Yvonne delivers over glorious feel good brass one of the album’s best songs. Somewhere “In the Library” and “Be The” are wonderfully resonant pieces delivered solo by Stewart, crammed full of rich word play and joyful syllables. “December Coast of Galloway” is another trio composition and another glorious Hymn like song. Imagine part Aimee Mann part In thanks delivered by Yvonne on perfect form. Another album highlight, brimming full of very English sounding brass. “The Minds Not What it Was” is a powerful poem for two voices, the speakers echo and counterpoint in a way that reminded me of the masterful play for voices, Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood. Another piece I found myself playing again and again, for the wisdom, the cadence and the collision of voices. “Everything in Heaven” had the feel of WB Yeats’ The Second Coming already referenced by Joni Mitchell. Start with this track, it has everything, atmosphere, two masterful voices, a stirring strings motif, stunning wordplay and more atmosphere than should be in one song. “Living This Long/Deep Me Deep”, with its stone church piano and charged delivery by Carol has a finality and summing up, like we are grave side in a county churchyard. “Enjoy Not Endure”, with its jazzy piano and the feel of Dylan’s “Forever Young” is a sublime closer. Spoken and sung the three voices twine perfectly on the uplifting lyric and a perfect closer. Carefully ordered, sequenced and put together, this what if album is a glorious success. Three voices speaking and singing, as connected as they separated deliver a collection of delights and surprises.