Bert Jansch's percussive fingerpicking was rooted in traditional folk music, but he swung around melodies like a jazz musician, the rhythms swaying in his Scottish soul. Turns out that even skilled guitarists who admired Jansch couldn't figure him out.
"He was the only person that I ever really tried to work out stuff as a guitar player, fairly unsuccessfully," guitarist Johnny Marr told The Guardian in 2009. "And it's true that, if you actually sit in front of him and watch what he's doing, it's harder. It's better to just try to work it out by ear, because you'd need like a mirror, and you'd have to stand on your head to work out how he's doing it."
Marr got to meet and learn from Jansch in the late '90s, and played electric guitar on 2000's quietly stunning Crimson Moon. Earth Recordings has been reissuing much of Jansch's catalog in recent years, and with Living In The Shadows, Part Two: On The Edge Of A Dream, the label celebrates his post-2000s output, including Crimson Moon, Edge Of A Dream, The Black Swan and an album of demos and unreleased tracks from the same era. This is all music that was made in his 60s, still as sharp and as subtly confounding as ever.
"It Don't Bother Me" is an unreleased demo recorded with Marr around the same era as the Crimson Moon sessions. On it, the acoustic duet revisits the title track from his second album released in 1965. Marr just adds light accompaniment to the self-contained melody, and funnily enough, not much has changed in Jansch's worn-beyond-his-years voice, it's just seen more time.
Living In The Shadows, Part Two: On The Edge Of A Dream comes out April 28 on Earth Recordings.