Folk legend, novelist, painter Judy Collins (‘Send In The Clowns’, ‘Both Sides Now’, ‘Amazing Grace’ etc…) has been making records for 50 years has through her latter-day releases on her own label, Wildflower Records kept her name in the frame.
Bohemian has Larry Campbell (guitar) and the group, Ollabelle (vocals) guest on her own ‘Morocco’ to aid her work on piano with Russ Walden (keyboards) and Tony Levin (bass, electric cello). Others on the album are Yoed Nir (cello), Mark Hill (bass), Steve Brewster (drums) and Dave Cleveland (electric guitar) on Jimmy Webb’s composition ‘Campo De Encino’. All is fine, the arrangement and vocals faultless yet, if only Collins’ vocal had a greater soul to them, instead of sticking tightly to her classical upbringing I for one would be more enthusiastic about her music.
For it still brings chills with her spare, ensnaring beauty as in the lead off track ‘Morocco’ that evokes images of the sea and peaceful calm. Continuing the theme we have her version, that contains some remarkable Mitchell-esque vocals (as they used to be compared during their respective prime) on Joni’s song ‘Cactus Tree’. As piano, violins, bass aid Shawn Colvin and her as they partner one another like they were living out destiny. More please was all I could say when the song ended.
Collins’ flame has dimmed little through age, the purity and beauty to her voice remains strong as heard in the songs ‘Pure Imagination’, ‘Wings Of Angels’ and Jacques Brel’s ‘The Desperate Ones’. Only they are little sombre and wistful and the kind of music I need to be in the mood for. Woody Guthrie’s classic ‘Pastures of Plenty’ to the accompaniment of piano (Collins) and keyboards breezes along at a pretty lick but his lyrics come over as lightweight on this performance. Same applies to traditional song ‘All The Pretty Horses’ yet considerably stronger and more meaningful is her version of Webb’s tune; her voice sounding similar in texture to a present day Joan Baez makes the song her own to signal a hands off statement.
Kenny White joins Judy on Michael Veitch’s ‘Veteran’s Day’ to help register one of the album’s finest efforts, on a song that is tough and strong such the lyrics that speak of the less fortunate ones in war. Those who march off to war when called upon by their country but return in a wood box with a flag draped over it. Her vocals are also in fine form on her own composition ‘Big Sur’ as she speaks of the wonders of California’s ocean and the wonders of the beautiful area.
If you want to boogie or have laughter scream at you then this isn’t the place to be, but wait you may just be in need of a reality check and to hear a real, honest artiste sing her pure tones and step back from a world full of hustle and bustle!
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