A Drop in the Fountain comprised a sequence of works by Dorset composer and songwriter Vanessa Young. It was an enchanting evening, encompassing a wide range of themes and moods all eloquently expressed in words and music of touching beauty and vision.
Vanessa Young’s professional roots as an English specialist and poet shine through in texts which make their points succinctly and evocatively. Characters and situations are sensitively and vividly drawn, and the humanity, grace and humour with which Young shapes each narrative is engaging and moving.
Yet perhaps most impressive of all is the deftness and facility with which Vanessa Young has turned her hand to composition, crafting evocative music worthy of her lovingly constructed lyrics. She possesses a rare gift for writing a melody which is deeply satisfying and eloquent yet tellingly simple, and for finding harmonies which catch and colour the mood with piquancy and vibrancy yet never gild the lyricism to excess. Young’s music carries the breezy, outdoor inflection of folk song whilst establishing a truly individual voice, and all who love the landscapes and seascapes of Dorset will recognise them in Young’s work. Her passion for the county and its contours rings heartily in her long-breathed melodic lines as well as in her words, which follow Hardy’s example in casting some of life’s darker moments against the resonant backdrop of a Dorset sky.
Young was well served by a team of splendid performers, ably directed by that most sensitive and skilful of Dorset musicians, Louise Dukes, who also arranged much of the material and featured as pianist and accordionist. Joining Louise were impassioned singers Jenny Featherstone and Benoit Dumesnil, aristocrat among Dorset cellists Sally Flann and polished guitarist Stuart Cave, with guest singers Rosemary Ellaby, Clare Mewett and Dot Vale, and pianist Millie Frost. All communicated these deeply affecting songs, and a couple of purely instrumental items, with poise and conviction.
The evening was presented most stylishly by experienced writer and broadcaster Norman Hartley, whose introductions proved both informative and involving. The atmosphere was warm, appreciative and electric and this delightful concert should certainly lead to further exposure for Vanessa Young’s creative work. We look forward to her CD, and I am certain that material of this unusual quality and attractiveness will find a wider market.