Jimmy Webb, "Still Within the Sound of My Voice" (E1)

Jimmy Webb continues to recast his grand songwriting catalog on "Still Within the Sound of My Voice" through carefully produced duets with special guests, from veterans Kris Kristofferson and the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson to younger singers like Rumer, the Pakistani-born Brit who contributes a lovely turn with Webb on the album's title song.

Following the formula of 2010's "Just Across The River," Webb lets his songs take center stage while sharing verses with other artists. Webb has a songwriter's voice, which isn't a criticism. His limited range focuses his intimate tone on the emotions of his lyrics, while providing a nice contrast to the more extravagant voices of duet partners Joe Cocker (on the great "The Moon's A Harsh Mistress") and Carly Simon (on the dramatic "Easy For You To Say").

Producer Fred Molin heightens the understated passion of Webb's songs with tasteful yet moody arrangements. Highlights include how Wilson and Webb reinvent the war horse "MacArthur Park" and the wistful romanticism Webb and Amy Grant bring to "Adios." Also, "Elvis And Me" features one of the last recorded appearances by vocal group the Jordanaires, following the death of leader Gordon Stoker in March.

Altogether, the collection is yet another fitting reminder of Webb's unique place in American song.

 

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