Although it might appear that Joan Baez has had an uphill struggle in her career as an interpretive singer in a popular music field dominated by singer/songwriters, in fact she has kept her music fresh over the years by seeking out successive generations of upcoming writers and championing their work. In the 1960s, that might have meant Bob Dylan and Richard Fariña, for instance, but 30 years later she is still finding new work by young artists and popularizing it, even if they also perform the songs themselves. On her 1997 album, Gone from Danger, those songwriters are Dar Williams, Sinéad Lohan, and Richard Shindell, each of whom contributes multiple songs, as well as Betty Elders and Mark Addison. They provide her with a host of new social issues to tackle as well, among them pedophilia (Elders' heartbreaking "Crack in the Mirror") and immigration (Shindell's caustic "Fishing"). As usual, she proves herself a superior interpreter, intelligently presenting the complex, mature concerns of the songwriters, whether the subjects have political or emotional resonance (or both). She is aided by producers Wally Wilson and Kenny Greenberg, who have constructed contemporary folk-rock arrangements using A-list musicians from the New Acoustic and newgrass fields, placing the music firmly in the '90s Americana style, which is not so far from Baez's mid-'60s music. This may be the umpteenth album by a performer whose career is nearing the 40-year mark, but it sounds as up to date as a disc by any contemporary artist of the day.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2