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Judy Collins: A Maid of Constant Sorrow

Album Notes

Judy Collins' debut LP shows her relying more on enthusiasm than subtlety in her singing, with a deeper, heavier style than anyone would be accustomed to from her. It's almost as though, lacking confidence, she tried too hard in various spots to make the songs (and her voice) sound profound and significant, and wasn't aware of what the strongest part of her range was. Occasionally, on "The Pickilie Bush" or "Wild Mountain Thyme" when she reaches for the high notes, listeners hear the future of Collins' sound, but much of what's here is more strident than listeners are accustomed to from her. Not that's it's bad -- she makes a good case for her renditions of those songs and Ewan MacColl's "Tim Evans (Go Down You Murderers)" within the context of their time. She is more relaxed on the sea shanties such as "Sailor's Life," and those tracks have a timelessness that is lacking in much of the rest. The whole album has value, however, both as an artifact of the early New York folk boom and the first effort of a major artist -- and "John Riley" could fit in on any career retrospective on Collins' work. ~ Bruce Eder


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