Linda Ronstadt – Duets (Rating 4.5 out 5)

lindarUnable sing due to the lingering effects of Parkinson’s Disease, Linda Ronstadt, one of the latest inductees into the Rock and Roll hall of fame has compiled one of the most heartfelt records you are sure to hear all year. Duets is a hand selected set of her favorite songs previously performed with partners as diverse as James Taylor, Dolly Parton, and of course, Aaron Neville.

With no fat on this bone, all 14 of these gems culled from an array of her albums released over the last 30 years are first-rate, with many deep cut surprises along the way. Most of the songs are sad and slow but that’s OK, her voice carries the day, and a beautiful instrument it is.

The songs presented here from “Adieu False Heart,” her 2006 album with Cajun singer Ann Savoy, to the country twang brought forth on “The New Partner Waltz,” and her rendition of the stone cold Hank Williams classic “I Can’t Help It If I Am Still In Love With You” will all bring you to your knees.

“I Can’t Get Over You,” another pairing with Ann Savoy puts the Ronstadt vocals on full vintage display, and the a capella rendition of “Pretty Bird”  with Laurie Lewis the only previously unreleased song on this set.  The record could have been 2 or three songs shorter with the been there, done that Aaron Neville collaborations as two examples with “All My Life” and “Don’t Know Much” included here. Fine songs in their own right, their only crime is supersaturation.

Laurel Canyon is well represented on the album with James Taylor making an appearance on the rocker “I Think It’s Gonna Work Out Fine,” and John David Souther lending his vocal prowess to “Prisoner in Disguise, and in a bit of Rock and Roll Irony, Don Henley, who also gave the induction speech for Ronstadt, performs a sublime duet on “Hasten Down the Wind” a song written by Warren Zevon, another one of the many artists that should be in the hall of fame but has been criminally ignored.

This is a record ever music lover should own. It is fresh and vibrant where it needs to be, pleasantly nostalgic in all the right places, and is warm visit with an old friend everywhere else.