our score: 4 out of 5.0
Linda Eder - By Myself : The songs of Judy Garland
Linda Eder can be counted among the true vocalists of our time, within the same league as Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion and early Whitney Houston, although not as well known. It is also a true statement that the late Judy Garland was a beautiful voice of the past. So when Eder decided to pay homage and take on the songbook of beloved Judy, it would stand to reason that it could be quite a work of art. Though many aspects go right on this album, there is an emptiness that exists which does not do justice to either performer.
The title track begins the disc with a lovely build up to soaring notes. The soft tones in the beginning strengthen at the song's end, making it a pleasing listening experience. The next track couples two songs together, a clever juxtapose between 'Almost Like Being In Love' and 'This Can't Be Love'. Both are light and a good match up. 'Me And My Shadow' is just as sunny and bright as the title suggests, and yet there is a sadness surrounding it.
'I'd Like To Hate Myself In The Morning', while suggestive and naughty in a playful way, leaves one feeling as if Eder was holding back. It lacks a certain pizzazz that would take the song to another level. The instrumental arrangement is done well, with the exception of the piano, which winds up with a choppy feel. Where that song fails, another succeeds. 'Do It Again is romantic and her vocals accomplish the sensuality that the lyrics require.
A quality that Garland naturally possessed was the tragic sound in her voice, which was missing from Linda Eder's version of 'It Never Was You'. The lack of lament makes this song forgettable. The fun and memorable song from Easter Parade is lackluster on this album, plagued by too little of the big band sound. “The Boy Next Door/You Made Me Love You” is another song that features a fine pairing, but unlike the previous coupling, it offers little variety. Sung in the same high register as most of the album, the long notes at the end saves it, but the longing and hopefulness the lyrics call for isn't entirely achieved.
Eder steps out of Judy's shadow with the original composition, 'The Rainbow's End'. Taking more liberty with this song results in the vocals having more confidence. A song about a singer and the love affair with music, it is the best track on this compilation. 'Rock-a-bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody' could have taken on a campy, overtop cabaret performance, but Linda does a superb job in dialing it back just enough. 'I'm Always Chasing Rainbows/Over The Rainbow' was probably done knowing that it would pale with the everlasting classic. No one’s rendition has yet to measure up to Judy Garland's.
Much like the final cut on the record, Linda Eder cannot be compared up with the original. It was a daunting and ambitious task to sing songs of such an iconic personality from the 1940's and '50's. Eder does her best and gives a decent exhibition, but the innate mourning and heartache that existed in the original versions of these songs were not fully realized. Judy Garland was a hard act to follow, and if listening to By Myself as an homage, rather than trying to remaster the songs of Garland, then it is worth a listen.
Personal favorite tracks: "Knockaround", "Water Into Wine" "Place In My Heart"