Anna Minard, our former city hall reporter, claims to "know nothing about music." For this column, we force her to listen to all the records that music nerds consider important.


Just Another Diamond Day


All right, who are these record nerds who are also Renaissance faire groupies? Because there is nowhere else you could've picked up Just Another Diamond Day. It sounds like the musical diary of a farm elf. "La la la la la la," something about a bale of hay and sacks of wheat and lily ponds. Songs about snails and worms. Pan flutes played by forest gnomes fill the background, and there's lots of gentle fingerpicked acoustic guitar. Vashti Bunyan's voice never gets any lower than a Mariah Carey solo, not for a second. The starting notes for these songs are higher than most people can even reach.

The album plucks along hitting the exact same tone with impressively perfect consistency, every minute on point. This is 100-percent Ren-faire and not a moment of it would be out of place at a fairy's birthday party.

I thought after one listen I must've just missed some crazy music-nerd layers because I wasn't listening closely enough, so I gave it serious attention. But there wasn't much else to discover. It really seemed to be exactly what it appears on first listen. I thought maybe the lyrics would hold the key to some dark new meaning or next-level understanding.

Nope! Just a lot of weather and farm animals and songs with names that sound like they're from a Celestial Seasonings commercial ("Rose Hip November," "Rainbow River"). How many times should the words "graze" and "grass" be used on an album? Bunyan thinks plenty, because there's not a ton for all these sheep and horses to do in the Shire, and she doesn't have a lot else to talk about. One song is sung directly to a teakettle, I think.

Sorry if I sound like a dick! I don't mean to. It's not like Bunyan is a bad singer; her voice is a hippie crystal from the festival gem booth polished to a perfect shine, not a single imperfection anywhere. I bet she feeds exclusively on nectar. As I mentioned, the tone is incredibly consistent. If this is what you're into, you have 18 solid-gold songs that will be exactly where you want them to be (in a soft-focus forest glen).

But, um, what gives? Is this what all those guys at the record store listen to at home? The guys who give you a condescending once-over every time you try to buy CDs? They've been at home mixing their own loose-leaf tea medleys, burning incense, and felting while listening to this the whole time. Dudes, you should hang out with my mom, I really think you'd get along.

If you enjoy spelling things with an extra e at the end OR have latex pointy elf ears for special occasions, then GET THEE TO A MUSIC PALACE AND PUT THIS INTO YOUR EARS. You're gonna freak!

I give this a "patchouli sunset" out of 10. recommended