Denny's own records, vividly captured on this ranging 2-CD, 34-song compilation, bear little resemblance to the hyper-driven duet with Plant. She embraces subtly arched melodies, maudlin moods and medium tempos. Whether nudged by the country-come-to-town guitar of her mate Richard Thompson or sitting pretty like a fluffy cloud atop the cushy violins of arranger Harry Robinson, Denny never rushes. Her God-given instrument blends power and flexibility, skipping between Celtic trills and low moans stripped of vibrato. Like a handful of vocal virtuosos--think Ella Fitzgerald--Denny's technique is so daunting that it sometimes eclipses the meaning of the words she sings.
Denny the lyricist, however, was no slouch. She wrote with a self-reflective pen, articulately tracking the slings and arrows of romance with unnerving detail and--more often than not--a sigh. Warning: This is melancholy territory.
A first-class brooder, Denny warbles the deep blues without ever bending a guitar string or flatting a fifth. Imagine a proper Englishwoman trying to get at the core of her own profound sadness, and you've got a vintage Denny ditty.
Fans of Fairport Convention, her finest band, will celebrate here the classic rendition of "Who Knows Where the Time Goes." Other Denny-heads will comb through curiosities like the previously unreleased demo of "Stranger to Himself" or a sunny pairing with Linda Thompson on the Everly Brothers' "When Will I Be Loved."
But then again, Anthology will work its baddest mojo on those who haven't really tasted life beyond, well, Zeppelin. After a second helping of Sandy Denny, those lucky fools will never be the same.