Lilith Fair: A Celebration Of Women In Music Volume 2

Various Artists

Nettwerk / Arista Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Last year, while the Lilith Fair was making its second journey across the country, the soundtrack to the first tour hit the streets. Now that the Sarah McLachlan-organized tour is preparing to make its third and supposedly final jaunt across the U.S. and Canada this summer, two separate volumes of music from the second series of dates have been released.

While the first Lilith Fair album seemed to highlight some of the lesser-known artists more than the established artists, the exact opposite seems to be true with Lilith Fair: A Celebration Of Women In Music Volume 2. It's still an enjoyable set, though one is left to wonder if there's anything to prove with its release.

Of the 14 songs on this disc, there is only one major disappointment - and, surprisingly, it lies with McLachlan herself. Her duet with Emmylou Harris on the ballad "Angel" (admittedly one of the few ballads I have ever heard that I actually like) is a good idea on paper, but Harris tends to distract the focus on this track, and takes the gentle edge off the song. This is not a good thing. Granted, McLachlan would be hard-pressed to re-create the magic of the studio version, but this one isn't even close.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

In turn, Natalie Merchant turns in a stellar performance on her cover of Elvis Presley's "In The Ghetto" (featuring an uncredited singer she duets with - any clues to the second woman's identity would be welcomed). It took guts to take such a song and put a new spin on it, but Merchant quickly makes this song her own, and this version is nothing short of phenomenal.

Of the other established artists, Lisa Loeb ("I Do"), Shawn Colvin ("New Thing Now"), Queen Latifah ("Life"), Heather Nova ("Island") and Cowboy Junkies ("Miles From Our Home") all turn in exceptional performances, and show why each of these artists have gained a great deal of respect over the last few years. Nova's performance is especially noteworthy; she is an artist who I think should have achieved greater heights of fame by now. Maybe this one track will help catapult her into the next level of success.

All of this isn't to say that the lesser-known artists do a sub-par job on Lilith Fair Volume 2. Holly McNarland serves to wake the crowd up from any doldrums they might have had with "Elmo" (warning: this ain't about the Muppet, so don't let the kids listen to it), and Angelique Kidjo's African melodies on "Never Know" prove that world music still has a lot of appeal. Morcheeba ("The Sea"), Bic Runga ("Sway") and Wild Strawberries ("Trampoline") also check in with good efforts.

Granted, a disc like Lilith Fair Volume 2 serves both as a souvenir of the previous tour for those who were fortunate to catch it and as a sampler/teaser of things to come on year three. But I have to wonder whether releases like these turn "Lilith Fair" into less of a showcase of female musicians' talents and more of a commercial project. (And, yes, I admit to being a hypocrite, 'cause we're going to review the third volume very soon.)

Rating: B

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© 1999 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 Nettwerk / Arista Records, and is used for informational purposes only.