"Paradise" is, without a doubt, Judy Collins' best album in a long time (although "Portrait of an American Girl" was very good). And in something unusual for Ms. Collins, this album is a lot of fun.
First and foremost, Ms. Collins, now 71, remains in great voice - her voice has hardly aged at all. I'm sure this is due to her constant voice training, physical fitness regimen, and healthy eating.
The album opens with the classic song from that other Judy, "Over the Rainbow." Similar to her versions of other Broadway and movie classics, Collins includes the introductory lyrics, which were cut from the Wizard of Oz movie. This song was also included in the CD that accompanied the children's' picture book "Over the Rainbow." It's nice to hear those original lyrics.
A duet with Joan Baez follows, with the two of them singing Baez's classic song about her affair with Bob Dylan, "Diamonds and Rust." Judy must be intrigued by Joan's love life, as the only other Baez composition that she has sung is "A Song for David," about Joan's ex-husband. Anyway, Judy and Joan do a great job together, and the arrangement is terrific - and fun. There is an interesting contrast between the two voices - Joan Baez's voice has definitely aged, and is now much older and huskier, while Judy's voice maintains its perfect clarity.
Since I only received the album today, I have not yet had the chance to savoir the next two songs, "Once I Was" and "Weight of the World." These seem like more classic Judy Collins songs about war and great challenges in life. I need to sit down and listen carefully.
In my initial listening, "The Last Thing on My Mind," a duet with Steven Stills, is a bit disappointing. Given that Judy and Steven Stills were lovers so many years ago (the Crosby, Stills and Nash song, "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" is Stills' ode to Ms. Collins), I had high hopes that this rendition would capture the thoughts and perhaps the serendipity of ex-lovers. I did not hear that - Judy's voice overrides Mr. Stills.
"Dens of Yarrow" is a classic in the original Judy Collins folk tradition. This song sounds very similar to the song Judy did on her "Classic Folk" album, "Barbara Allen." Do they come from the same tradition?
Next is Judy's own song about 9-11, "Kingdom Come." This song, previously released as a single, always brings tears to my eyes. "Emilio," a duet with Michael Johnson, is another song that will require more study.
I absolutely love, "Ghost Riders in the Sky." Of course it's been done too many times. But the contrast between Judy's serious voice, and the chorus of "Yippie yi Ohhhhh, Yippie yi yaaaaay," is too much fun - evidently Tom Paxton is part of the "Yippie" chorus.
The final song is a Jimmy Webb song about Gauguin looking for Paradise in the South Pacific. This song ties the album's themes together in classic Judy Collins style.
My review is "Yippie yi Ohhhhh, Yippie yi yaaaaay"