Joan Baez is a name that everyone will be familiar with. Having been performing live for over 60 years and with more than thirty albums to her name, hers is a formidable name on the music scene. This year will see the release of her latest masterpiece Whistle Down the Wind.
Whistle Down the Wind opens with its self-titled track and the first thing that strikes you is the smooth, soulful and beautifully emotive voice that Baez has become known for over the years. Baez easily has one of the most recognisable voices on the music scene and with her latest foray it sits atop a stunning throne of her own design. It isn’t simply the rich, evocative nature of her voice however but the tales that she carefully pairs with them. Baez is not shy about her topics and she has carefully crafted a collection of songs that match her unique voice perfectly. Songs such as The President Sang Amazing Grace are tender yet almost painful to hear. Songs of sadness, loss and war – Whistle Down the Wind is by no means a cheerful collection but each song is so hauntingly beautiful as they catch in your mind, planting seeds of doubts and questions.
Joan Baez performing Diamonds and Rust
A true master of her craft, Baez and her tender, evocative voice are carefully and melodically paired with some of the most tender and calming music that you can envisage. Songs such as Be of Good Heart seem to drift peacefully like a leaf down a stream as her honeyed vocals are paired with gentle gospel organs and a peaked collection of mandolin tunes. These pairings make Whistle Down the Wind one of the most elegant and beautiful albums of the year so far. These peaks and troughs that Baez creates in her work allows her to elevate different aspects of her work at the drop of a pin. One moment you are focussed keenly on her sultry and affecting voice as her music becomes little more than a backdrop to her tales but the next you are whisked away to cast your ear purely on the astounding and gentle melodies that she brings to life.
Breathtakingly beautiful, tender and elegant; Whistle Down the Wind is an album that is packed with a raw and powerful emotion that is carefully polished and delivered in a manner that can soothe your aching heart although you may find that it was the cause of the ache in the first place. Awash with emotive melodies and heart-breaking harmonies it is an album that will haunt you in the best kind of way.
Joan last performed in the UK in 2014 when she sold out 4 nights at London’s Royal Festival Hall, following a sold out 21 date tour in 2012. The 2018 UK and ROI dates are as follows:
March 13 York Barbican 0844 854 2757 www.yorkbarbican.co.uk
March 14 Birmingham Symphony Hall 0121 345 0600 www.thsh.co.uk
March 16 Glasgow Royal Concert Hall 08444 999 990 www.gigsinscotland.com
March 17 Edinburgh Usher Hall 08444 999 990 www.gigsinscotland.com
March 19 Belfast Waterfront Hall 028 90 334455 www.waterfront.co.uk
March 21 Dublin Bord Gais Energy Theatre
March 22 Dublin Bord Gais Energy Theatre
ROI 0818 719377 & NI 0844 8472455; www.ticketmaster.ie
May 23 Bristol Colston Hall 0117 203 4040 www.colstonhall.org
May 24 Manchester Bridgewater Hall 0161 907 9000 www.bridgewater-hall.co.uk
May 26 Gateshead The Sage 0191 443 4661 www.sagegateshead.com
May 28 London Royal Albert Hall 0207 589 8212 www.royalalberthall.com
May 29 London Royal Albert Hall 0207 589 8212 www.royalalberthall.com
Review by Joe Knipe