Nov 132023

Two millennia after her death, the preserved body of the Yde Girl was found in the Netherlands. Her mysterious Celtic life appealed to the Danish artist Andrea Novel, who takes the name Ydegirl for her ethereal forays into music. Her latest is a contribution to Fader & Friends Volume 1, a new Bandcamp compilation in support of a good cause, and downloadable for a limited period. Ydegirl’s take on “Song to a Siren” is a remarkable piece.

The original song had a start not blessed with good auspices. Whether it was some dubious lyrics (can an oyster be puzzled?) or its inclusion in the poorly-received Starsailor album, Tim Buckley’s strophic setting of collaborator Larry Beckett’s poem was not, initially, marked for greatness. The first recording was by Pat Boone, and Buckley himself used it as filler in an episode of The Monkees. Our previous discussion of its covers noted that the revival of the song by This Mortal Coil marked the point where it was recognized as a classic, and acted as one of the catalysts for the revival of Buckley’s legacy. There have been many covers since and many of the artists, including Robert Plant, take the TMC version as the starting point. It is not clear at all what starting point Half-Man Half Biscuit used, but it made for great entertainment.

Ydegirl takes the This Mortal Coil version but also recognizes something primal in the work, in line with her Celtic sympathies. If the sirens were there to lure Greek seafarers to their death on the rocks, there might be little in the way of arrangement or musical support as they sang, and the sailor responded. Thea Thorborg plucks her violin as she might a lyre. Ydegirl also knows that the song would have to be so appealing, so beguiling, so all-encompassing that all other thoughts would be lost. She manages this with remarkable vocal range, but with no loss of control. She is in charge of the song and her mission.

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