Nicolette Larson was a staple of California pop and soft rock in the '70s, not only as a solo artist, but as a backing vocalist for artists as diverse as Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Van Halen, and Neil Young. As a matter of fact, Young gave Larson her breakthrough hit, "Lotta Love." The song turned out to be the peak of her popularity, climbing into the Top Ten in early 1979. She never had that kind of widespread success again, even if she had a few smaller pop hits to her credit, along with some success on the country charts. The charts may have changed, but the music really didn't -- she always walked the line separating country-pop and California soft rock. Throughout it all, her sweet voice was continually engaging, even when she worked with material that wasn't always convincing. That much is evident from Rhino's definitive retrospective, The Very Best of Nicolette Larson. Spanning her entire solo career, from her 1978 debut to her 1994 children's album, the 16-song collection contains all the major highlights, but its momentum sort of sags toward the end of the disc, as her material grew weaker and her productions became too clean. Nevertheless, this is an accurate portrait of her career. If The Very Best Of isn't quite as cohesive as her first few albums, so be it -- it charts the ups and downs of her career quite well, and in doing so, it offers a definitive, warts-and-all summary.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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