1967's Fire & Fleet & Candlight captures Native American songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie gradually emerging from the earlier 60s folk scene, but still recognisable as a child of that musical movement with her quavering voice, guitar and mouth bow. Traditional fare as Lord Randall, Reynardine and the Lyke Wake Dirge (using Benjamin Britten's music) with Joni Mitchell songs The Circle Game and Song To A Seagull, the old-timey Bascom Lamar Lunsford song Dogget's Gap and eight of Sainte-Marie's own compositions including The Seeds Of Brotherhood and the wonderfully titled 97 Men In This Here Town Would Give A Half A Grand In Silver Just To Follow Me Down. There is something of a schizophrenic quality to the repertoire: Buffy had clearly been affected by the arrival on the scene of the first Joni Mitchell songs (as were many others such as Tom Rush and Ian & Sylvia) and the orchestral stylings Judy Collins was then trying out for size. Some songs, such as the album's opener The Seeds Of Brotherhood, are rather earnest and utopian period pieces but there are still many things to savour, including the gothic Lyke Wake Dirge, the feel-good rock of 97 Men and the Edith Piaf-like, French version of Sainte-Marie's own Until It's Time For You To Go; all fine performances.
by JOHN CROSBY