Various Artists

Stormy Weather [AT&T]

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AllMusic Review by

This ten-track compilation is drawn from a benefit concert held at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles to raise money for Don Henley's Walden Woods Project. Ten female singers essay song standards of varying vintage, from the 1930s to the '80s. A favorite concept in benefit albums, this matching of contemporary singers to classic material usually results in disaster, but this time the results are modestly successful. Credit arranger/conductor Vince Mendoza for coming up with charts faithful to the time periods of the songs that nevertheless support the current singers. Also credit an effective backup band, especially trumpeter Mark Isham, whose solos are striking on "You've Changed," "Good Morning Heartache," and "Gloomy Sunday." But also credit some of the singers; they've done their homework and sound like they are familiar with the songs, not just going through them for the first time. Among the surprisingly successful singers are Paula Cole ("You've Changed"), Shawn Colvin ("But Beautiful"), and Stevie Nicks ("At Last"). It may be that the singers have been matched to the songs better than they often are, and it is also good that there are none of those tricky songs by Rodgers & Hart and Cole Porter to worry them. With two of her signature songs included, the ghost of Billie Holiday looms over the album, and of course, Sheryl Crow and Björk do nothing to improve on her. But none of the singers embarrasses herself, either, and for this kind of project, that's saying something.

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