Fires of Eden
marked Judy Collins
' debut on Columbia Records, and she seemed to rise to the occasion with her best overall body of new material in more than a decade. Not everything on this album is memorable, but what is, is intensely so, beginning with the opening cut, "The Blizzard," a seven-minute epic that rates alongside any of Collins
' most beautiful work from her classic years on Elektra. The words and music combine to form a screenplay in miniature, and the transitions between standard lyric and conversational passages in the lyric only add to the complexity of this long, flowing, lyrical piece. Her version of "The Air That I Breathe" is pretty enough, even if it won't make anyone forget the Hollies
' recording, but a lot of the new songs have a special power. The title track offers an alluring vocal performance of a surprisingly impassioned lyric, while "Home Before Dark" presents her in a more ethereal mode. The production and instrumentation are the fullest heard on one of Collins
' records since her transition from folk music to art song on the Wildflowers
album, which makes the best of the melodies here come alive in rich and robust fashion.