BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Despite a handful of late ‘60s and early ‘70s albums that proved his mettle as both a singer and a songwriter, Jimmy Webb’s material was always best served when sung by others, whether it was Glen Campbell, Art Garfunkel, The Fifth Dimension, Richard Harris or any of the dozens of other artists who parlayed his material into career catapulting hits. So it’s no surprise really that Webb opts to repeat that formula by drafting another all star-roster to reinterpret his catalog. The better known songs are, for the most part, comparable to the original renditions, particularly when it comes to Keith Urban’s emotive take on “Where’s the Playground, Susie” and Joe Cocker’s vulnerable read of “The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress.” Unfortunately, an unlikely pairing of Brian Wilson and “MacArthur Park” finds the Beach Boy struggling to find his voice on the song’s upper registers, which makes this particular selection ultimately falls flat.
While that sad waste of talent and potential deals the album a serious blow, the rest of the set proves mostly satisfying, even when the song selection remains relatively unknown. Lead-off track “Sleeping in the Daytime,” a terrific duet with guest Lyle Lovett, is a rousing way to begin the album, while Kris Kristofferson’s croaked and weary vocal on “Honey Come Back” affirms Webb’s prowess when it comes to a country crossover. David Crosby and Graham Nash, along with America and Art Garfunkel, show on their respective songs how their talents are best used to enhance the arrangements and not overpower them.
Happily then, for all its famous guests, Still Within the Sound of My Voice still showers the spotlight on the voice that created these songs to begin with.
DOWNLOAD: “Where’s the Playground, Susie,” “The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress,” “Sleeping in the Daytime”