Sunday, February 14, 2016

Judy Collins – Strangers Again

Strangers Again

Fifty-five years after the release of her first LP, A Maid of Constant Sorrow, Judy Collins remains a remarkable singer with one of the most elegantly beautiful of voices – a voice that moves seemingly effortlessly from folk music to art songs and pop music.

Strangers Again, Judy’s latest album, much of which leans toward pop music, is a collection of duets with 12 male singers – some of whom I’ve been listening to for decades and some of whom I’d not heard of until now. As well, some of the songs were familiar to me while others I’d never heard before.

Among the standout tracks is Judy and Willie Nelson’s haunting version of Dave Carter’s “When I Go,” a song that turned out to be prophetic as Dave, a brilliant songwriter who only emerged in his mid-40s, died suddenly from a heart attack just weeks before his 50th birthday in 2002. With the most folk-oriented arrangement on the album, Judy and Willie capture the deep Native American spiritualism at the essence of the song.

Another standout is a version of Leonard Cohen’s sublime composition “Hallelujah” with Bhi Bhiman. Although the song has been covered to death by other artists, I’ve always thought it was almost written with Judy’s voice in mind and – especially given how many of Leonard’s songs Judy has recorded over the years – I’m surprised she hasn’t done before now.

Also among the highlights are the new versions of Ian Tyson’s “Someday Soon” with Jimmy Buffett and Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns” with Don McLean, two of Judy’s greatest hits from decades ago, and Randy Newman’s “Feels Like Home” with Jackson Browne.

Judy Collins and Mike Regenstreif (2014).
Judy will be here in Ontario next month for three concerts on Friday, March 11, at Southminster United Church here in Ottawa (which I’m highly looking forward to); Saturday, March 12, at Hugh’s Room in Toronto; and Sunday, March 13, at Aeolian Hall in London. All three concerts will be opened by my old friend Garnet Rogers.

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--Mike Regenstreif

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