by John Martyn (London Conversation, 1967)
John Martyn is perhaps more famous for some of his later work, Solid Air and One World in particular are classic albums, but these albums are made from a different kind of silk. The music that would later be included in various lists of greatness is much more conceptual and experimental than Martyn's intricately finger-picked trad-folk beginnings. The guitar mastery is phenomenal, sometimes giving the sensation of two guitarists, each with six fingers. At this point it's worth mention that Martyn had just celebrated his nineteenth birthday when the album was released.
'Ballad Of An Elder Woman' is perhaps the saddest song off the album. The song opens with “Now woman, don't you feel sad when you see your life go round” sung with a genuine pain at making said woman come to terms with all the things he wants to say. The guitar is picked with a tender drama that pulls at your heart strings with consummate ease, the way the notes move up an octave or two when the only repeated line, “And woman, it's your heart, I hear crying”, is sung reinforces the line and highlights the pity felt.