I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Anne Murray. Her voice is so warm and comforting. I've always loved the intelligence, independence, and strength she conveys even (especially?) when the songs are about heartbreak and loneliness. On this new CD, her duet partners express their respect and admiration for Anne through their excellent performances (with one exception) as well as their quotes in the liner notes (a couple of the artists are not quoted).No two reviews will have the same favorite, and mine is no doubt somewhat subjective: I am thrilled to hear my former Emory University schoolmates--Indigo Girls!--sing with Anne on "A Little Good News." I imagine this will be the first time many Anne fans will have heard the wondrous harmonies of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, and I strongly recommend their entire catalog. Fans of the song will notice that Diane Sawyer has replaced Bryant Gumbel in the lyrics, and that Ireland has been replaced by Gaza. Sadly, this song will probably be just as timely in another (damn has it been) 25 years as it was in 1983 and is today.Another personal favorite of mine has always been "Time Don't Run Out on Me". While I'm thrilled Carole King is on board to sing this with Anne (Ms. King co-wrote it with ex-husband Gerry Goffin), I wish the ladies hadn't slowed the tempo down for their version. The original kinda rocked! I still can't believe it didn't make the pop chart back in the day. (Let it go, Jeff. Just let go of it already.)All the performances are beautiful. I don't think I've ever heard k.d. lang turn in a performance that isn't flawless. No exception here ("A Love Song"). Shania Twain does a great job with Ms. Murray on the immortal "You Needed Me." I imagine it would have been easy to screw up such a standard. They don't! The one song here that actually was a duet the first time around ("Nobody Loves Me Like You Do", with Dave Loggins) is done here with Anne's daughter, Dawn Langstroth. The song is even sweeter this way than when it was a romantic duet. Aww... It was nice to hear Jann Arden ("Somebody's Always Saying Goodbye") after so long. Someone will need this reminder: Ms. Arden's big U.S. hit was "Insensitive." Pop radio played to death, then never gave anything else from her so much as a spin. (Again. Let it go, he tells himself...) And "Snowbird" is about as far from Andrew Lloyd Webber as Sarah Brightman is likely to get--unless you are familiar with "(I Lost My Heart To A) Starship Trooper". Ms. L-W does brilliantly. I especially enjoyed the liner notes for that one.I can't not mention Olivia Newton-John, because I love her. "Cotton Jenny" is not my pot o' tea but it's so nice to hear these two icons singing together. Speaking of icons, and getting back to the exception noted above (you thought I forgot about that didn't you), a word about Dusty Springfield. I remember Ms. Springfield's version of "I Just Fall in Love Again" from her criminally-ignored LP "Living Without Your Love" (now available on CD, by the way). This posthumous duet was recorded with "the blessing of the Springfield family and estate". I'm happy that Anne Murray respected Dusty enough to have included her on this CD, but naturally sad that Dusty is no longer with us to have actively participated in the creation of the song as a duet.I was tempted to make some mischief over this being a ladies-only project. No doubt much of this CD will appeal to the "cult following" I was blissfully unaware of until reading the entry for Ms. M in the 1983 version of "The Rolling Stone Record Guide." But for me, ineligible for that segment of the pop audience, guys' voices would just mess up the pretty. I'm keeping this CD out for a while; like Anne Murray's other LPs & CDs, it's a tonic for troubled times.
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