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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Judy Collins

and Ari Hest - Silver Skies Blue

Review by Gary Hill

Folk music can sometimes feel tired and a bit samey. While I wouldn't call this album "folk" music, it is clearly very folk driven. It is definitely not monolithic. Judy Collins and Ari Hest tend to alternate which of them sings lead on each song. That's not entirely true as some are more duets. That sort variety, though, adds to the diversity of the set. The song structures and arrangements also help a lot. This is a great disc. I love the harmonies on it, and there are some really magical moments on this album.
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Track by Track Review
Drifting Away

With a rock and roll meets folk approach, this cut has a lot of energy. It's a cool track, and I really like Collins' performance on this a lot. The harmonies really work on this, too.

I Choose Love
Another rocking piece, this is powerful. The first section features Ari Hest on lead vocals. Collins takes a turn handling the leads on this, too. The harmonies are again great, and the tune really benefits from the shared lead vocal duties.
Silver Skies Blue
Here we get a cut that's more the kind of thing you expect from Collins' solo catalogue. It's an effective folk based number that again features some great harmonies.
The Weight
I really love this song. There is a bit of country meets rock vibe to it. Of course, it's still more or less full folk rock. Hest's vocals are the lead ones here, but Collins really adds a lot, too.
Slow Burn
I love the interplay between the two voices on this cut. It's another that's more of the mellow folk style.
Let You In
There is a bit of jazz here. I dig Hest's lead vocals on this number a lot. The tune is a catchy one that's among the best here. Collins handles lead vocals at times, too.
A much mellower tune, Collins takes this one to start it. It's very pretty and quite dramatic. It's an evocative piece for sure. It's one of the best tracks of the set.
There is a bit more of a rock and roll vibe here. If there's a song to skip here (and that's questionable), it's this one. It has a good energy, but just seems to lack a little something. I don't think the vocal performances are quite up to those on the rest of the tunes, and the song itself is just not as strong. Still, it has its charms.
A mellower cut, there is definitely a European cafe element to this. Hest and Collins trade lead vocal duties in different sections. It's a strong piece.
Secret Harbor
This is very much in line with the kind of thing I expect from Collins. It's a very pretty and powerful piece of music. This is another highlight, and Hest's vocals add something to it for sure.
Home Before Dark
A much mellower folk tune, this is a very pretty cut. It's anotehr that's more in keeping with the kind of thing I expect from Collins.
Strangers Again
Another on the mellower side, I really love this song. It has an almost proggy air to it. I like the bits of guitar soloing that show up, and the whole piece is packed with magic.



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