The Very Best of Oleta Adams primarily consists of material from her first three albums. The big mystery of this 1998 collection is the lack of material from 1990's Circle of One, by far her strongest and more musically varied set of songs. A mere three tunes are included here: "Get Here," the Soul II Soul-styled "Rhythm of Life," and the rousing "Circle of One." Her weaker second album, Evolution, however, is represented by no less than five tracks, and four songs from Moving On also appear. The Very Best of Oleta Adams also includes material that was never previously available on an Oleta Adams album. Tears for Fears' Seeds of Love hit "Woman in Chains" is here, and Adams' pitch-perfect vocal harmonies play off Roland Orzabal's melodramatic bombast surprisingly well. Though a more subtle arrangement may have been more successful, her rendition of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (which appeared on the Elton John/Bernie Taupin covers album Two Rooms in 1991) is performed with such gusto Elton John's version pales by comparison. Adams also shows off her astonishing range on the Gershwin classic "Embraceable You" and a nice reading of Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross." Although The Very Best of Oleta Adams lacks two of her best performances -- Circle of One's gorgeous version of "Everything Must Change" (which has been recorded by countless artists, including Gene Harris, Nina Simone, Carmen McRae, and Barbra Streisand) and the aforementioned "New York State of Mind" -- it is a pleasant collection that showcases Oleta Adams' beautiful voice, even on lackluster material.
AllMusic Review by William Cooper
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