Running for My Life is Judy Collins' 15th album for Elektra Records (not counting three compilations) in 19 years, and by now the 40-year-old singer knows what she wants in putting together an LP, which may help explain why this is her first album on which she alone is credited as producer. She still retains her affection for traditional folk music, which she demonstrates with a version of "Bright Morning Star." She continues to champion songwriters whose work she helped to popularize in the past, here taking another pass at Jacques Brel's "Marieke" and, as she had with Stephen Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns," bringing the Broadway composer's work into the pop realm by performing both "Green Finch and Linnet Bird" and "Pretty Women" from his 1979 Broadway musical Sweeney Todd. Another songwriter she has called attention to recently is Hugh Prestwood, and she sings his "Almost Free," which, with Larry Gatlin's "I've Done Enough Dyin' Today," shows her continuing affinity for country music. Extending her reach, she looks to Sesame Street for "The Rainbow Connection," tries a contemporary pop/rock sound on "I Could Really Show You Around," and uncovers a forgotten show tune in Harold Rome's "Anyone Would Love You" from the 1959 Broadway musical Destry Rides Again. Among the three songs she penned herself for the album, she typically evokes family in "Wedding Song," written for her brother's nuptials and, in its chamber orchestra arrangement, evocative of the kind of semi-classical orchestrations of Joshua Rifkin she employed on albums such as In My Life. She thus has come up with a varied and well-balanced collection of songs and styles, all of them effectively performed. This is not, however, a standout Judy Collins album, one featuring new ideas or approaches or even a song that seems likely to become a part of her permanent repertoire. Old fans probably should be satisfied, but not excited, and the album is unlikely to attract new ones.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann