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Judy Collins Judy Collins
Album: In My Life, Wildflowers, Whales & Nightingales
Label: BGO
Tracks: 34

There is very little new that can be written about one of the true icons of folk music, Judy Collins. She released her first album in 1960 and her most recent one in 2015 proving that age is no barrier to success. Her fifty five year career has seen her become one of the most respected performers, recording artists and songwriters. She has been described as a modern day Renaissance woman who is also an accomplished filmmaker, record label head, musical mentor, and an in-demand keynote speaker for mental health and suicide prevention. Quite a lady!

This latest double CD includes three previously released albums from 1967 and 1971. Much of the music is taken from her formative years when she relied more on other songwriters for her inspiration and music before developing her own style. The albums contain music from Dylan, Cohen, Newman, Donovan, Lennon & McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Pete Seeger and a few tracks of her own.

There is a lovely little Liverpool connection with the delightful "Liverpool Lullaby" and The Beatles "In My Life," the title track of the first album. An especially beautiful version of the latter whilst the former loses some of its raw emotion when not sung with a Scouse accent but is nonetheless charming.

Primarily folk influenced with a touch of country in the three album offering and of course it also includes arguably her most famous release "Amazing Grace." Some songs are delivered with joy whilst others with a genuine feel of sadness. There has always been a touch of innocence about Judy's voice creating total clarity and this is apparent throughout the thirty four tracks here. This clarity of voice is most apparent when the backing is stripped back to its bare bones. Leonard Cohen's "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye" is a perfect example of this.

I have to take slight exception to Judy's version of "Sunny Goodge Street" written and originally recorded by Donovan. I have been to that place many times and I cannot ever remember the sun shining. Perhaps Judy has not had the pleasure of visiting?

It is impossible and pretty pointless to analyse each track on this CD as it will take up far more time than I have available and probably far more than people would want to read anyway.

Fans of Judy Collins will love this compilation and it serves to demonstrate how much she has developed as a musician and performer over the years. This lady is pure class. Nothing more needs to be said.

Rory Stanbridge