- May 13, 2021
- Henry Carrigan
- Album Reviews
by Henry Carrigan (@henry.carrigan), Folk Alley
When Judy Collins sings, she spins gold with her swirling and soaring vocals that weave intimately and tenderly around the lyrics of the songs she selects to sing. Over her career, she has used her vocal alchemy to transform familiar songs into enduring classics that dazzle with the sheen of her voice, whether the songs are her originals or the songs of others she covers. She continues to work her alchemical magic on this album, which contains new recordings and previously released material.
The album opens with Collins’ ethereal interpretation of It’s a Beautiful Day’s atmospheric classic “White Bird.” Collins provides her own harmony vocals, swooping and circling higher and higher as the song climbs into the stratosphere; Collins conveys the crystalline purity of the song by singing it over flowing waves of guitar, dobro, and keyboard rather than the diving and rising violin runs of the original. Collins’ delivers a newly recorded version of her own classic interpretation of Joni Mitchell’s “Chelsea Morning”; this new version circles brightly over a radiant jazz foundation, capturing the joy and life of the coming of day in a room in Chelsea in New York City. Ringing guitars and unspooling dobro runs float under Collins’ resplendent vocals in her unhurried meditative version of Peter Seeger’s “Turn!Turn!Turn!” while she captures the yearning for freedom in her soaring take on Lennon-McCartney’s “Blackbird.” Collins and Stephen Stills offer a rousing take on Tom Paxton’s “The Last Thing on My Mind” with their lilting harmonies, while Collins and Joan Baez trade harmony and melody on Baez’s melancholy “Diamonds & Rust.” The album closes with Collins haunting and poignant version of Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns.”
White Bird: Anthology of Favorites never hits a false note, and Collins’ selection of songs illustrates once again her gift for living in a song and tenderly breathing into a spirit of love and beauty.