Various Artists

All Songs Considered: 4 CD Collection

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This four-disc box set, comprised of each of the individual albums in the All Songs Considered series, is a nice collection and the perfect example of what makes the NPR news show from which these songs are culled, All Things Considered, so popular among its listeners. It's thought-provoking but not revolutionary or abrasive, intelligently put together, and provides a diverse selection of material, from Hungarian folk songs to Norwegian fiddles, from reggae to post-bop, from Icelandic experimental to electronica to Americana, and almost everything in between. A majority of these songs are instrumental, the focus of the album being on atmosphere (for the radio, the music was all played between and after the stories on All Things Considered, and was meant to highlight specific aspects or points) but Bob Boilen, host and director of the show, also chose songs with singers who are able to add a lot to the overall melodically clean effect with the use of their voices -- Patty Larkin, Wimme Saari, Sally Ellyson from Hem, and Montserrat Figueras, for example. Each disc is meant to be played as a complete album, and since there's consistency in sound between all, the whole thing could actually be listened to in one four-hour rainy-day reflection extravaganza, accompanied only by a cup of hot tea and Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time. Overall, it's an appealing and intellectual package.

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