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Album Review: Linda Ronstadt – Duets

2 min read

In April 2014, celebrated vocalist Linda Ronstadt will be inducted into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. A new compilation of her greatest duets marks this bittersweet occasion; Parkinson’s disease has silenced one of the music world’s purest, most distinctive voices.

Linda Ronstadt DuetsDuets kicks off with Ronstadt’s most recent work off her 2006 collaboration album with Cajun music singer Ann Savoy, Adieu False Heart. The title track, I Can’t Get Over You and Walk Away Renee are devastatingly beautiful, as rich, pleasant violins and gentle guitars evoke the American landscape. They prove that unlike her peers back in the early 1970s like Joni Mitchell, Ronstadt’s voice hardly deteriorated over the four decades.

Further duets with other legendary performers prove Ronstadt’s versatility over different genres.

The angelic I Never Will Marry with Dolly Parton and the timeless Grammy-award-winning Hank Williams cover I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love With You) with Emmylou Harris show that Ronstadt was undeniably her strongest as a country singer. There’s also Hasten Down The Wind with Don Henley of the Eagles (whose epic Desperado Ronstadt once covered), as well as the dramatic Prisoner In Disguise with J.D. Souther.

On the flip-side, Ronstadt could be as bold and brassy as the vivacious Bette Midler on the jazzy, fun girls’ anthem Sisters. She could also slow things down the old-school way, on her romantic duet with Frank Sinatra, Moonlight in Vermont. Ronstadt’s vocal talents were so immense that she sang acapella and didn’t need autotune on her mesmerising, previously unreleased duet with Laurie Lewis, Pretty Bird. This is a wonderfully intimate recording that makes listeners feel like they are in the same room as these two performers. The only remotely low point on Duets is Ronstadt’s awkward cover of Ike and Tina Turner’s I Think It’s Gonna Work Out Fine with James Taylor, as none of the rocky original’s signature shrieking are retained.

For listeners who didn’t grow up with Ronstadt during her heyday in the 1970s, her late 1980s output surely must be familiar to them. The animated film An American Tail features Somewhere Out There, her sweeping, romantic duet with James Ingram. Nevertheless, Ronstadt‘s biggest radio staples are her Grammy-award-winning duets with soul vocalist Aaron Neville: Don’t Know Much [whose familiar piano riff and synth strings must have inspired Bryan Adam’s cheesefest Everything I Do (I Do It For You)] and All My Life. Ronstadt and Neville’s voices meld so well together that these two records are truly magical.

Despite Ronstadt retiring from music, the music world should not forget her invaluable contributions through her extensive and highly acclaimed work over the years.

2 thoughts on “Album Review: Linda Ronstadt – Duets

  1. Her voice is remarkable. The clarity is almost too intense as in Prisoner in Disguise. I wonder if we will ever hear the likes of her again. And the cover is so so cool.

  2. It still makes me wanna cry to learn that Linda can’t sing anymore. I have been her devoted fan since I first heard “You’re No Good” on an AM radio station from San Antonio in 1974–40 years ago! I followed every turn of her career, all the while being exposed to world-class music. And by the way, Mr. Le–I love her sexy cover, along with James Taylor, of “Think It’s Gonna Work Out Fine”!!

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