Judy Collins,
(Wildflowers, 1995)

Shameless is one of the best folk collections I have heard in a while. Judy Collins has total control over her powerful voice across several octaves (at least four). She maintains her tone quality and an even volume, sounding equally relaxed at high rips or low holds. She demonstrates a mastery of technique, such as rips and fall offs. She controls where and when her voice possesses vibrato. The backup is fantastic, with particular skill and artistry being displayed in the echoes scattered throughout the songs.

My favorite of these songs is "Risk." The words will hit home with every listener. The music and tempo build to a crescendo and fall off in perfect time to emphasize the words. The humming will relax you and carry your worries away, while the words will inspire you to take a chance and pursue your dream. This is an awesome musical piece! Everything about it is outstanding!

Another piece that I found exceptional was "Wind, Water, Fire and Stone." It begins with water sloshing against a shore or rocks. Chimes and a bell-like synthesizer carry you to the vocals. An oboe-like rendition of the wind is spectacular. Birds join the nature serenade. The ending will move you! Collins demonstrates the holding power of her voice as the song fades away with thunder, chimes and one heck of a vibrato that leads into a rainstorm. This is a killer piece! It is worth buying the CD just to have this one song.

"Mountain Girl" begins with a quick piano tempo, reminiscent of "Music Box Dancer" at high speed. The synthesizer in this one is killer! It lends an orchestral effect to the chorus and builds to a crescendo before falling off to the piano. This is a real toe-tapper; you cannot sit still while listening to it. "Melody" had me singing along halfway through the piece. "Song For Sarayevo" evokes the desperation of the people of Sarayevo with haunting words and outstanding backing vocals by the children of the former Yugoslavia choir.

"Lily of the Valley," the story of an abusive husband and a wife that kills him and gets hanged for the crime, brings you to tears and touches your soul. You will be haunted long after the music ends. "LetŐs Pretend," on the other hand, is a great song for spinning around the floor with your eyes closed as you fantasize about your favorite ex-lover.

The overall effect of this collection is relaxing, although you will definitely get the urge to dance to some of the songs. You will find yourself humming along and even singing with Collins. Her music touches you deep inside and seems like something you know by heart the first time you hear it. It is easy to relate to the words and the life experiences she sings about.

This CD gets my highest recommendation. It has everything to be desired in a musical collection. There is something to appeal to every listener. From a vocal solo to a full-band delivery, this collection ranges across the types of musical performance. The diversity of sound, tempo and composition guarantees that every person will find something to like. Buy a copy today.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 15 February 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.