In 1969 Bob Dylan defied convention and instead of making a political statement - at the time there was much to protest about - he made Nashville Skyline, a sublime and quirky country-rock album. Featuring Johnny Cash and a host of other great musicians there is much more to this than Lay Lady Lay, and Dylan's best album after Blood On The Tracks. This was the ultimate protest singer making the ultimate anti-protest album.
History really does repeat itself. I have the same feeling listening to Song To A Seagull, Joni Mitchell's wonderful début album, as I do with Laura Marling's Alas I Cannot Swim... The same idealistic lyrical craft mixed with swirling acoustic guitars in a simple, unruffled and raw production. Not many singers get away with a concept album as their first effort but Mitchell made her mark on the music world from the very first note. Her voice is both powerful and un-threatening, every song tells a story, while the strings add the atmospherics.