After a long absence from solo work, Valerie Carter released "The Way It Is" in 1996. Following the pattern of her debut, it featured a fine selection of songs and a fine array of guest performers. The years since her previous album, Wild Child, had been spent doing much session work with a variety of artists, keeping her voice in good form. It was interesting to hear her take on songs such as Neil Young's "Birds" and Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic," and it was especially nice to hear her version of "Love Needs a Heart," a song she had co-written with Jackson Browne and Lowell George and which originally appeared on Browne's 1977 album Running on Empty. The funked-up blues-rock of "Who Is She" was a duet with Lyle Lovett, who had long admired her work.
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AllMusic Review by Rob Caldwell