Sketches is the finest moment of McDonough's early years - mainly in thanks to far stronger songwriting on her part. There's also better judgement exercised in picking the covers. Instead of material by Paul Williams - really a hack songwriter capable of only occasional brilliance - there's a typically first-rate Carole King song, "What Am I Gonna Do" (written with King's erstwhile collaborator Toni Stern), and "You've Turned My Head Around," by a pre-fame Kim Carnes. McDonough's contributions are invariably excellent, going far beyond the prim folk straitjacket of her Keepsake material, to explore pop ("Empty Spaces"), deep soul ("Delta Shelter") and gospel ("Rainmaker"). "If Love Is A Dream" exhibits McDonough's artistic maturity to the full. Sung with a mournful grace, this open-eyed look at the reality of adult relationships, versus the romantic fantasies and hopes instilled in us from birth, remains one of her best songs, and she wisely recorded it again in the 90s.
One carp, though: only a couple of tracks last for more than two minutes, and there's nothing to get one's teeth into. All the cuts could have been justifiably expanded, if only by more repetition of their choruses.