Holly Near

With a Song in My Heart

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Despite her excellent voice and interpretive ability, Holly Near would not seem like the best candidate to record an album of classic pop standards, if only because the underlying social attitudes of such songs are at such variance from her own, a point driven home in 1983 when she put together a medley of standards on the Lifeline album and questioned the "unhappy together" line in "Come Rain or Come Shine." Her sleeve note on this album indicates that she remains ambivalent and still doesn't really approve of the material, apologetically stating that one reason to sing these songs is "to keep some sweet innocence in our revolution." Lorenz Hart, Cole Porter, and their contemporaries were rarely sweet and never innocent. Still, Near has chosen some of their more straightforwardly romantic songs, and her very skepticism lends her an interpretive distance that accentuates the sophistication of the lyrics; many cabaret singers work hard to achieve the same effect. Whether she knows it or not, it's okay that Near doesn't believe that "Love Is Here to Stay" or that "The Best Is Yet to Come": Ira Gershwin and Carolyn Leigh didn't, either.

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