Thea Gilmore breathes new life into the words of a tragic lost star

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Folk-rock pioneer Sandy Denny left a wealth of lyrics that have inspired the artist's new album - by Andy Gill

"For several decades now, we have grown used to record labels ransacking their vaults for demos and out-takes with which to repackage old albums in expanded editions. So perhaps it's surprising that it has taken the music industry this long to catch onto another major revenue stream involving "heritage" artists: the revitalisation of dormant lyrics.

It's something first tried in the latter years of the last century, when Woody Guthrie's daughter Nora gave her blessing for Billy Bragg and Wilco to devise tunes for a sheaf of her father's lyrics. The results, recorded on Mermaid Avenue, offered a bracing reminder of the range and vigour of Guthrie's songcraft, and sold enough albums (more than 250,000) to make a second volume worthwhile. A similar opportunity arose just a few years ago, when Hank Williams's notebooks turned up. The Williams estate, rightly surmising that the closest modern equivalent to Hank was Bob Dylan, offered the lyrics to him for a proposed album of collaborative songs."

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