on 15 December 2011
Wow, I didn't see this one coming ! I always felt Judy Collins peaked around the time of Wildflowers/Who Knows Where The Time Goes but, after several listens, I have to say she has probably come up with an album to match either of those. This could just be her finest album - or, if not, it's certainly neck and neck with whatever is. Isn't it amazing that an artist in their 70s can suddenly produce what may well be their best work ??
The covers are wonderful - after all these years she has finally got round to covering Joni's Cactus Tree - and superbly too. It was worth the wait. A fabulous version of Jimmy Webb's Campo de Encino - don't know if this is a new composition, if it is, it sounds as if he's been reborn too ! And Woody Guthrie's Pastures sound like a new song - a great Contemporary sound that really works. But what I think really brings this one home in glory is the quality of the self penned songs - I don't think she's written anything stronger than these since the days of My Father or Che - and these are all on the same record. As I said, no exageration, she has produced her finest creation here. Just listen !
on 23 December 2011
This is a gorgeous album of mainly covers and a few new songs from one of the great folk chanteuses of all time. Judy Collins at 72 sings with crispness and occasionally an operatic tone that cuts these songs into a Christmas ice sculpture of musical clarity. There is a lovely cover of Joni Mitchell's 'Cactus Song', and Judy is accompanied on this version by Shawn Colvin.
There is a fair degree of sentimentality in the selection, but I'm not going to question this from someone who has seen and experienced so much of life. 'Veteran's Song' is a lament for fallen soldiers and largely free of treading the mire of inappropriate patriotism in this context, though the song is spoilt for me be the vocal of Kenny White. Two others, 'Wings of Angels' and 'In The Twilight', attain their genuine gravitas from the respective realities of Judy writing about her son Clark's suicide and her mother's death from Alzheimer's disease. That artists turn such darkness to something meaningful in the act of creativity and performance is a transformation one perhaps appreciates more through experiencing and sharing similar over time.
'All The Pretty Horses' is as lush as a lullaby should be - and the celebration of so much prettiness with, as I've said, some sentimentality on this album is given a witty overarching reflection in the lyrics of a new song provided by the great Jimmy Webb, 'Campo de Encino'.
on 29 April 2012
Well, as Steve Bayes wrote, I didn't see this one coming. Judy Collins was on BBC Breakfast to promote her autobiography and just happened to mention that the last time she was on, she didn't get the chance to mention the album released the previous year. If I remember correctly, the show overran and there wasn't a lot of time to interview her, except to say that she had recorded a duet with some new star/band (not sure....).
Anyway, being a fan, I just went ahead and ordered the album. I have nearly all of her albums so it was never a gamble; but what a wonderful surprise this was. The album starts off with the brilliant "Morocco" which has the vocal group Ollabelle with stunning choral-sounding vocals which enhances Judy's singing. Shawn Colvin joins Judy on a cover of Joni Mitchell's "Cactus Tree" which Joni recorded on her "Song To A Seagull" album. Judy and Shawn's version matches the original in its quality - yes, it is that good.
Because Judy is singing so well here, it seems she can sing anything. She shows that by singing "Pure Imagination", which Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley wrote for 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" - pure wonder, Judy! The beautiful "Wings of Angels" - just Judy singing and playing piano - comes next before we get to her duet with Kenny White on "Veteren's Day", a very touching song and, although I do wonder about his solo vocal as I don't like his voice much, their vocals together are suited to each other and the track is still OK. Judy's version of the sainted Jacques Brel's "Desperate Ones" is delicious, but is outdone by the best track on the album. "Pastures of Plenty" is a Woody Guthrie song which sounds so fresh and modern that it could have been written yesterday. It is sublime and a tour de force. The final four tracks, the traditional "All the Pretty Horses", Jimmy Webb's "Campo de Encino", Judy's very touching song about her mother "In the Twilight" and her reminiscences in "Big Sur", are strong songs and demonstrate what a fantastic singer she still is and what a lovely album this is.
I know we shouldn't go on about it, but the woman is 72, for heaven's sake! Her singing is out of this world here and the accompaniments, the arrangements and production are all top class. She continues to confound me and, frankly, I'm so pleased she does.
on 7 December 2011
This may be Ms Collin's finest album,or at least on a par with any of her others. Like a good wine her voice gets better (only Emmylou harris can compare for clarity and feeling). Her own songs are wonderful, particularily the tribute to her late mother and the closer a tribute to her time aropund big sur. With minimal instrumentation it's a beautiful warm piece of work. Oh and my god the lady still looks stunning after all these years and tribulations.