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Perfection in an Imperfect World
on October 16, 2008
If I were a professional singer and had this CD under my belt, I could die happy knowing I'd left behind a thing of beauty for the world to enjoy. Sure, it helps to have Jimmy Webb and Karla Bonoff writing the songs, Marty Paich providing the wonderful orchestral arrangements, Brian Wilson and the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir singing background vocals, and Aaron Neville sharing lead vocals on four of the tracks. But then I'd still have to sound like Linda Ronstadt, one of those rare individuals who has the range, versatility and technique to sing well in any genre. Sad, soulful ballads like "Goodbye My Friend" and "Shattered" and powerhouse anthems like "So Right, So Wrong" and "Trouble Again" receive the full benefit of Linda's extraordinary musicality and skill. I don't understand why some of the songs aren't more famous, they're so beautiful. In addition to the ballads mentioned above, I'll name two more, both by the great Jimmy Webb: "Still Within the Sound of My Voice," and "Adios," with Brian Wilson's vocal harmonies adding his characteristic lushness to a lovely, bittersweet song.
The best known tracks here are probably Linda's duets with Aaron Neville, particularly "All My Life" and "Don't Know Much," which won a Grammy in 1990. Linda and Aaron may appear to reside in different musical universes, but their voices sound great together and they are totally in sync with one another. Whoever had the idea of bringing them together to make music knew what they were doing.
In a long, eclectic career filled with great performances, this is one big CD that shows off Linda at the height of her powers. And as a old hippie from the Old School, I appreciate hearing a real orchestra instead of synthesized violins. There's just no substitute for wood and strings vibrating in time with the vocal cords of Ronstadt the Great.