Roll over, Nick Drake, and tell the Holy Modal Rounders the news. The latest hippie-era alt-folk (we’re officially done with the "freak folk" tag, tell your friends) icon to receive the documentary treatment is Vashti Bunyan. Before Joanna Newsom, Josephine Foster, Marissa Nadler, and the rest of today’s ethereal folk sirens had even taken corporeal form, British songstress Bunyan was crafting her haunting ballads for a small but enraptured audience. After her first album, 1970’s Just Another Diamond Day, failed to set the charts afire, she went incognito for decades, finally surfacing for a new album in 2005 and being hailed by the neo-folk crowd as a spiritual godmother.
U.K. director Kieran Evans’ Vashti Bunyan: From Here To Before traces the elusive singer/songwriter’s strange and wondrous path into, out of, and back into the music world. Interviews with everyone from producer Joe Boyd to acolyte Devendra Banhart enrich this tale of a true original and her idiosyncratic journey. Thus far, the film has played at a few U.K. festivals over the last couple of months, but if you make enough noise about it (or maybe just cross your fingers real hard), it just might wend its way to an art house near you sometime in the near future — possibly in time for the new album Bunyan’s set to begin recording early next year.