Holly Near

And Still We Sing: The Outspoken Collection

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Holly Near has made a career out of speaking out, so calling her collection And Still We Sing: The Outspoken Collection seems an apt one. In the tradition of the '60s protest singer, Near has never been shy about wearing her liberal beliefs on her shirt sleeve. Although some of the material dates back to the '70s, most of it has been recorded within the last 20 years or so. The first disc is made up of studio tracks from earlier Near albums, including 2000's Edge, 1989's Sky Dances, and 1981's Fire in the Rain; the second disc consists mostly of live tracks featuring a number of guests like Mercedes Sosa and Ronnie Gilbert. Near's songs and lyrics read like a list of left-leaning political causes from the past 20 years, covering everything from nuclear fallout ("Ain't No Where You Can Run") to war ("Foolish Notion") to workers without work ("I Got Trouble"). Although one can never doubt Near's commitment, the arrangements on many of these songs sound dated and occasionally bombastic. The political causes, likewise, sometimes seem like yesterday's news. Nonetheless, longtime fans, aware of Near's politics and style, will be glad to have all of these tracks gathered on And Still We Sing.

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