Jimmy Webb

Still Within the Sound of My Voice – 2013 (eOne)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Jimmy Webb

Jimmy Webb gets the all-star duet treatment on "Still within the Sound of Your Voice," which he sincerely deserves. And while Webb is one of America's greatest songwriters, even he might admit he's not one of its best singers. He's not a bad singer, mind you; just not the most commanding one.

Perhaps the 'semi-all-star' heading fits best, though, because a few of Webb's singing partners aren't exactly A-listers. It appears as though Webb and producer Fred Mollin went for the most fitting pairings, rather than merely going on popularity alone. The relatively unknown Justin Currie joins Webb for You Can't Treat the Wrong Man Right, while the same can be said of Rumer (AKA Sarah Joyce), the other half of this album's title track. This approach is all for the best because the more times we can keep actors like William Shatner out of the recording studio, the better.

Webb's Elvis And Me, about his time spent with The King, may not contain his best words, but you have to give him kudos for rounding up The Jordanaires, singers that backed Mr. Presley all those years, to vocalize with him on this recording. Other performers that come off particularly well are Lyle Lovett, who lends his understated cool to Sleepin' in the Daytime. Also, instances where Webb is supported by stellar harmony vocalists shine particularly bright. David Crosby and Graham Nash, for example, especially highlight If these Walls Could Speak while America bring vocal beauty to Rider from Nowhere.

Nevertheless, even the presence Beach Boy Brian Wilson can't turn MacArthur Park into a great song. It was weird back when Richard Harris recorded it, and it's still weird - although a mite prettier - here. Who knew it could be so bluegrass-y, though?

The voice of Glen Campbell, put to Jimmy Webb songs, is still the best way to hear 'em. However, this new set places many fine songs in a new light, which is a very good thing, indeed.