Bert Jansch Is A Folk Star Reborn

Bert Jansch Is A Folk Star Reborn
Photo: Loren Jansch
As a cult hero for over 40 years, Bert Jansch can count among his many admirers Jimmy Page and Neil Young. But it is the new generation of psych-folk artists that has brought the British acoustic guitar god back with The Black Swan, arguably his best work since his days with Pentangle. Co-produced by Noah Georgeson, the man behind Joanna Newsom’s exquisite Milk-Eyed Mender, and featuring guest appearances by Devendra Banhart, Beth Orton, and Mazzy Star’s David Roback, the album recaptures the ancient mystique that made Jansch’s early albums, like 1966’s landmark Jack Orion, endlessly entrancing.

"Noah was recommended to me to help with the production, and I met him for the first time after seeing him play with Devendra in London,” the soft-spoken Jansch says. "Everyone in the band offered to help out on the record right away, which was great. It took me a while to get used to how Noah works, but once we got going, it was a fantastic experience.”

The revisiting of classic sounds only adds to The Black Swan’s top-notch performances, from the heartbreaking Irish prison ballad "The Old Triangle,” to the haunting title track, an original composition that Jansch says he’s had with him for several years. "I had a chance to play a lot of these songs live for a long time, which made a huge difference before recording.” The Black Swan’s pedigree has already set it apart within Jansch’s vast catalogue, and should prove to be his best received album in recent memory. But aside from that, it is a timely and fitting tribute from the latest group to fall under the spell of his groundbreaking style. "I’ve been listening to Devendra a lot lately, and it is surprising to hear my stuff in his music,” he says. "It was strange at first, but then that made me think of how strange I probably sounded when I started.”