Various Artists

Time and Love: The Music of Laura Nyro

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When Laura Nyro passed away from ovarian cancer in spring 1997, it was as if she was given a new life. The collection Time and Love: The Music of Laura Nyro is one of the many highlights of that brief musical revival, but an earnest, impressive effort. Fourteen female artists came together to celebrate Nyro's understated warmth and desire, breathing new emotion into some of Nyro's best work.

Phoebe Snow, who was occasionally compared to Nyro, gives a sullen disposition on "Time and Love." Suzanne Vega's plainspoken, hush-like vocals provide a wintry feel on "Buy and Sell." This dark tale of love, sex, and pain, complete with Mitchell Froom's quiet piano accompaniment, allows Vega to present Nyro's lyrical anguish. Select tracks from Rosanne Cash ("Save the Country"), Beth Nielsen Chapman ("Stoney's End"), and Jill Sobule ("Stoned Soul Picnic") carry Nyro's torch of passion, but lesser-known artists such as the Roches ("Wedding Bell Blues") and Sweet Honey in the Rock ("And When I Die") are equally wonderful. Canadian chanteuse Jane Siberry shapes her own tribute by mixing lyrics from "Stoned Soul Picnic," "Eli's Comin'," "And When I Die," and "Wedding Bell Blues" on the sparkling, poetically beautiful "When I Think of Laura Nyro." Lisa Germano has a different touch. Germano recasts the fervor of "Eli's Comin'" in a gray world, and Nyro would have enjoyed her sinister twist. Holly Cole's sexy jazz strut on "Sweet Blindness" has similar appeal. Time and Love: The Music of Laura Nyro does exactly what Nyro did as an artist: It musically breaks boundaries while keeping raw emotion alive. Those who were involved in this project believe in such a thing. Nyro would be touched by their reflections.

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