Winter Stories

Judy Collins & Jonas Fjeld

Wildflower, 2019

http://www.judycollins.com

REVIEW BY: David Bowling

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/08/2021

There was a time when Judy Collins was an important part of the American folk revival movement. Beginning in 1961, she released a series of excellent folk albums. While she has turned in a pop direction during the past four decades, every once in a while, her folk roots shine through. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Her latest release, Winter Stories, is a nice fusion of pop and folk. There are some older songs and recreations of past tunes. Her choice of Norwegian folk singer Jonas Fjeld as a vocal partner on a number of songs was an interesting choice, and ultimately an effective one, as he pulls a number of the tracks back from the pop precipice. Also the addition of the Blue Grass band Chatham County adds some interesting elements to a number of tracks.

Winter Stories, despite the title, is not a Christmas album. Rather it is a laid-back affair that is best heard sitting around the fire place on a cold winter night. It is mostly an album of story songs, including her 30-year-old opus “The Blizzard.”

The vocal duet tracks work well. “Northwest Passages” is about the explorers of the past and Eric Anderson’s “Angels In The Snow” is recreated for a duo. Add in “Frozen North” and the title track and it adds up to a series of strong tracks with Fjeld.

Possibly the best song is her haunting rendition of Jimmy Webb’s “The Highwayman.” She transforms this old country tune.  She takes “Bury Me With My Guitar On” in a different direction and it emerges as a peppy rendition.

It is nice to see Collins veer back toward her folk roots. Winter Stories is one of her strongest albums in decades.

Rating: B+

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