Lilith Fair: A Celebration Of Women In Music

Various Artists

Tyde / Nettwerk / Arista Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/08/1998

When the plans for 1997's Lilith Fair were announced, some might have thought such a project was overambitious. Then again, some thought the same of the now-defunct Lollapalooza. But with the help of some of her friends, Sarah McLachlan pulled it off, creating one of the most successful tours of the year.

Now, as the second year of Lilith Fair prepares to kick off, the "soundtrack" to the first tour has arrived in the stores, allowing those who attended to relive the memories and those (like myself) who couldn't make it to experience the magic for the first time. And while Lilith Fair: A Celebration Of Women In Music is a noteworthy compendium, it suffers from the overambition that some people said the tour would suffer from.

A two-disc set featuring a slew of artists - many I was hearing for the first time ever, one immediate weakness comes in that these artists only get one cut on the disc to showcase themselves. In all honesty, I wouldn't have minded having this set expand further than two discs if it would have granted some of these artists a greater showcase.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Case in point: Dayna Manning, whose moment of fame on this disc with "I Want" is one of the brightest spots in the disc. Frankly, I wanted to hear a lot more from this young artist - and I'm sure we all will be in the future. Other artists who have not had the chance to really catch on in the big time, such as Lisa Loeb (forgetting about "Stay" for a minute), Tracy Bonham and Dar Williams, show why they deserve their shot in the spotlight as much as the next artist. Could I see a whole slew of live albums from Lilith Fair performances being this good? Oh, yeah.

There are a few disappointments on this set, though. The sound quality of The Cardigans's "Been It" is not up to par with the rest of the album; one wonders why this particular version was chosen. Abra Moore has a great song in "Four Leaf Clover," but she sounds a bit strained and out of tune on this version. And as much as Lilith Fair is supposed to be about diversity, I can't say I was particularly moved by the performances of Lhasa or Yungchen Lhamo. (I liked the performance of Autour de Lucie, even if I have no clue what they sang.)

If Lilith Fair does anything, it should restore people's faith in some once hugely-successful artists. Both Suzanne Vega and Susanna Hoffs make the most of their allotted time, and they turn in some performances that blew me away. And while her star is still rising, Meredith Brooks actually impressed me with this version of "Wash My Hands." (For that matter, Paula Cole won me over with this performance of "Mississippi".)

Of course, McLachlan gets her own say on Lilith Fair, turning in a great rendition of "Building A Mystery," as well as an emotional performance of "Water Is Wide" with the Indigo Girls and Jewel. (It should be pointed out that half the proceeds from the sale of this album are being donated ro RAINN and LifeBeat.)

Lilith Fair might not be the perfect substitute for not attending the festival in the first place, but the music contained on these 25 songs, for the most part, hits the bullseye time and time again. If anything, let this album serve both as a musical scrapbook and as a glorious sampler - listen to this album, then go investigate some of these artists further.

Rating: B+

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Tyde / Nettwerk / Arista Records, and is used for informational purposes only.