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Christine Collister
The Dark Gift of Time,  Koch Records CD KOC-CD-8022, 1998

 Promising pop album

The pop music world is chock full of masterful singers who wouldn’t recognize a well-written song if their very life depended upon it. Christine Collister, though, shows with  The Dark Gift of Time that she has no desire to belong to that misfortunate, clueless club. If you can name another modern diva who has the guts to take on Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Robert Wyatt and Billie Holiday, I’ll eat a Whitney Houston CD.

Collister opens this understated collection with Bruce Cockburn’s goose bump-inducing "The Whole Night Sky." Featuring the unique guitar sounds of Richard Thompson (another A+ songwriter, by the way), Collister gives this true-to-emotional-life song the kind of vocal beauty its originator–the slightly vocally challenged Cockburn–could only hint at. Sometimes, though, Collister’s pretty pipes are pretty misplaced. For example, Tom Waits’ "Dirt in the Ground" calls for the kind of two-pack-a-day gruffness only Waits can give it. Additionally, "Deeper Well" severely misses Emmylou Harris’ distinctive singing and Daniel Lanois’ perfect production.

Overall, though, it’s hard to find too much fault with such an enjoyably eclectic disc. In a perfect world, all pop albums would sound like this one. Luckily, you can pick up this release, and just pretend that the real world of the pop charts just doesn’t exist. Instead, allow Collister to be your reality.– Dan MacIntosh

 Glenn Brooks says... Collister has a seductive deep alto, and the arrangements and superb backing musicians make the most of it. But although she has the guts to tackle "God Bless the Child," she would have been well advised not to do so. Collister has yet to hit her stride as a solo act (she was part of an English folk/pop duo with Clive Gregson) but she has enough taste and talent that she will probably get there.

Copyright © 1999 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.