Songwriter Ruthann Friedman rambled through the mid-'60s and early '70s, rubbing elbows with San Francisco's psychedelic royalty and eventually lending her song "Windy" to AM pop group the Association. "Windy" would become one of the Association's biggest hits, but while the royalty checks for that singsongy piece of fluffy pop poured in, Friedman was constantly working on songs by turns more gritty and leaning toward the psychedelic side of folk. Windy: A Ruthann Friedman Songbook follows 2006's collection of unreleased material A Hurried Life, as well as reissues of Friedman's sole solo album Constant Companion. The collection's 18 tracks include demo recordings from early stages of the ubiquitous "Windy," gentle folk pop rambles like "When You're Near" and later period songs that draw on the Haight/Ashbury rock vibes of the Summer of Love to a serviceable degree. With a smoky voice not unlike similarly mystical folkstresses Kathy Smith, Linda Perhacs, and later Laura Nyro, Friedman's songs are generally more stormy than poppy, and guest appearances by Randy Newman and Van Dyke Parks add some color to this scattered but thoroughly enjoyable scrapbook of Friedman's various unheard phases.
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas