Judy Collins, Wildflowers

Willowy, waiflike and insubstantial, a vocal portrait of its singer, it's still got its charms even if the hoity-toity folksiness comes off as more condescending now and then than quaint. The Joni Mitchell tracks ("Michael from Mountains" and of course "Both Sides Now") are the best, with baroque flair and strings like a chamber trio in the summer sun and Collins' voice suggesting the very flowers you know are woven through her hair. Her own tracks are more morose and melancholic, however (though "Since You Asked" is nicely arranged, at least the verses), and the three Leonard Cohen selections ("Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye" in particular) just go breezily nowhere. The oddest conceit is the actual baroque Middle Ages fifth track, which apparently topped the Billboard charts in the 14th century. I suspect she aspired to high art; I suppose there are worse things than ending up high-falutin' instead. The Elektra reissue pairs it with the immediately following "Who Knows Where The Time Goes" which is itself hardly perfect, but maintains all the best musical attributes of this album while managing to be better produced and better written besides. (Content: no concerns.)