What A Wonderful World

Anne Murray

StraightWay Records, 1999


REVIEW BY: Michael Ehret


Anne Murray's singing career began in 1968.

You heard that right -- 1968.

Since then she has recorded 35 albums, including a live album in 1997, and had at least 10 compilations of her songs (various Greatest Hits permutations) available. She has sold more than 40 million albums and was instrumental in paving the way for Canadian singers such as Celine Dion, Shania Twain, and k.d. lang. In addition, Murray helped break down the barriers between pop and country, setting the stage for country music's explosive growth in the 1980s and 90s.

Many of her songs have entered the national consciousness, including: "Snowbird," "Danny's Song," "Broken Hearted Me," "A Little Good News," and of course, the once ubiquitous, "You Needed Me."

While the level of success Murray enjoyed in the 1970's is probably behind her for good, she proves with her latest effort, a two-disc collection of timeless hymns and other inspirational songs, that she still can compete with the best of them when it comes to ability.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Her voice has lost none of its appeal over the years. It is still a warm, supple, instrument capable of transporting the song and the listener to a new place. On What A Wonderful World, her new effort, she shares some of the songs she's been singing since she was a kid. Her interpretations of classic hymns of faith such as "Amazing Grace," "Softly And Tenderly," "The Old Rugged Cross," and "In The Garden," should earn this disc high praise from Christian music listeners.

While some of the pop-music songs she's chosen as "inspirational" could be questioned ("Let It Be," "I Can See Clearly Now," and "Put a Little Love In Your Heart") her interpretation of them cannot be faulted. Not content to merely record these great songs, Murray attempts to put her vocal stamp on them - and in most cases is successful.

One of the highlights on these discs is a duet recorded with her daughter, Dawn Langstroth, 20. Murray and her daughter recently went through a very public struggle with anorexia. The duet, "Let There Be Love," was written by Amy Sky and Steven MacKinnon, and is the first single to be released.

Langstroth's soprano is not as pleasing as her mother's famous alto, but she certainly holds her own in the song and blends nicely with Mom. Of course, it should be noted Langstroth is not a professional singer so she gets mega-points just for participating. It would have been nice to hear more of her, to see how she would handle other songs. But, the duet is lovely.

Another magical moment comes in Murray's rendition of Leonard Cohen's lovely "Song Of Bernadette." Some fairly impressive singers, including Jennifer Warnes and Aaron Neville, have recorded this song and Murray's version is equal to either of those. When her cozy voice caresses the refrain "I just want to hold you, come on let me hold you, like Bernadette would do" it is entirely believable.

Other highlights include: covers of Bob Dylan's "I Believe In You," Don Williams' hit "Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good," Red Foley's "Peace In The Valley," and the title track.

Are there a few missteps? Certainly. Any double disc runs that risk. Unfortunately, Murray adds nothing to her version of Bill Withers' "Lean On Me" and her nearly a capella rendition of the church campfire song "Jacob's Ladder" is a challenge to listen to all the way through. But, that's a small complaint, really, compared to the pleasure of hearing her voice again.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Michael Ehret 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 StraightWay Records, and is used for informational purposes only.