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Portrait of an American Girl
Review of Judy Collins CD

By Julius Timmerman
Posted Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Singer Judy Collins needs no introduction to folk music fans. Despite some extraordinary ups and downs in her personal life, she’s been delighting audiences since the 60s when she was major player in the revival of folk music in America. Her commitment to both performing and standing up for social causes has never diminished.

At 66 Judy is in good form - her voice is still remarkably fresh and powerful, and Anne Leibovitz's sleeve portraits reveal a mature elegance. As you might expect though, Judy’s music has evolved since the 60s. She seems more romantic now and with its relaxed pace, this album is perhaps aimed more at an older audience than her earlier albums might have done. It’s a very neat production, her warm expressive voice taking centre stage while her smooth backing band keeps a low profile.

Although well-known for her covers, Judy still writes her own songs, like the sentimental “I Can't Cry Hard Enough”, an amiable “Singing Lessons”, a folky "You Can't Buy Love" and an unaccompanied “Wedding Song”. The covers include Joni Mitchell’s “That Song About The Midway”, Bruce Cockburn’s “Pacing The Cage”, Abner Spector’s “Sally Go Round The Roses”, a mellow “How Can I Keep From Singing”, and a proud narration of Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait”.

Overall there’s a sense of folk-era and nostalgia dominated by a kind of New Age spirituality. As she says, she sings for herself, so although it’s long way from the 60s to here, this album is still eclectic and quintessentially Judy Collins.


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Portrait of an American Girl