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 Review by Ned Raggett

Given Esther Ofarim's association with Scott Walker and a crypto-experimental pop coterie in the early-'70s U.K., it's reasonable and accurate to assume spillover on this collection of her work in London. Tackling a variety of familiar standards from recent and not-far-distant chart smashes, Ofarim's voice is certainly enjoyable enough and the performances are usually quite elegant. If nothing is completely bowled-over amazing, it's often gently entrancing, however familiar a number of the warhorses have become over time. If anything, the better comparison point to be made might be less Walker than Tim Buckley's own orchestral explorations. The striking take on "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" steers well clear of the Roberta Flack take in favor of something that could almost be a Jane Siberry interpretation, while "Hey That's No Way to Say Goodbye" flows as an understated rumination. "Gnostic Serenade" takes things to a nice level, though, with a bit of glam descent in the verse and a generally ruined and beautiful superstructure of music that gives Ofarim a chance to build up slowly if it ain't Karen Carpenter it's not that far removed, really. "Song of the French Partisan" has the same big melodrama as Joan Baez's "Here's to You," if less anthemic in favor of something fragile and about to break.

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