Paul Zollo on Amy Holland’s Light Of My Path

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Stunning. A beautiful masterpiece of song, rendered resplendently by Amy and lovingly crafted by producer Fred Mollin. It’s a love letter for those of us who yearn for full albums of great songs and singing like the kind we grew up loving. If you also crave those kinds of unified and inspirational musical journeys, like the great albums of the 70s, songs all about serious songwriting and sumptuous voices in harmony, this is an album you will cherish.

She’s one of the great singers of our time, famous and beloved for her expressive lead vocals, but also a genius of soulful harmonic singing,  of wrapping her voice around another voice, or voices,  to perfection.

Add to that a sumptuous selection of songs by many of our greatest songwriters, elegant production and her voice combined with the voices of some other great champions of song, including her husband Michael McDonald, David Crosby and Joseph Williams.

Rather than reach back decades for previous standards, she chooses modern songs which all resound with an inspired timelessness. It all starts with Louise Goffin’s gorgeous “Bridge Of Sighs,” which is the perfect amalgam of jazz and soul for Amy to sing with Michael McDonald. The sound of their voices wrapped so warmly together on this beautifully aching chorus is enchanting. Louise, the daughter of Goffin & King, obviously has song greatness in her DNA; this is a classically structured song, as solid as songs get.

And it just doesn’t get much better than the sound of Michael and Amy singing together, these two vocalists both brilliant at singing the perfect harmony part to complete the vocal sound of a record. Michael has brought that amazing sound to classic records by Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers over these years, and his voice remains one of the greatest sounds in modern pop music. And when he sings with his wife, as he does here, it is greatness of real moment and magnitude.

Every track is inspired, but a few favorites have emerged: Marc Jordan’s “I Must Have Left My Heart” resounds like another modern standard, in the beautifully melodic and lyrical realm of Rodgers & Hart. “Walking On A Wire,” written by the late Eric Lowen with Dan Navarro and Rick Boston, is a perfectly conceived song, with a greatly visceral chorus and urgency. It’s a duet with Joseph Williams.

One of the few vocalists whose harmony vocals have been as impactful on modern music as McDonald is David Crosby, long known as the `glue’in CSN for his magical way of finding the elusive middle part, the harmony line that perfectly bonds two other voices. So it is appropriate that the great Croz is also helping to steer this great harmony cruise. He’s on “Gravity,” a dazzling ballad sung as a trio with Amy and David Pack, written by Randy Sharp and Jack Wesley Routh. It was the perfect choice for Croz, as it sounds like a classic open-tuning Crosby gem from the first days of CSN. Mystical and haunting, it’s very beautiful, the voices fused together like the best of CSN, when all three voices become one.

Another Sharp-Routh song is also here, the lovely “Prove That By Me,” which is a duet with Michael McDonald, and with another beautifully visceral choruses brought home by these great voices.

We even get one of Cyndi Lauper’s most lovely compositions, “Hatful of Stars,” a delicately poignant and magical song made even more magical by Amy’s delivery of tenderness and clarity. It’s a song about holding onto days of dreams, those early days when there is more magic than substance in our lives, and Amy inhabits it.

It ends with the title song, written by Amy. A ballad of faith and redemption, it’s as much prayer as song, and the ideal culmination to this luminous journey. “Please Lord,” she asks, “shine a light on my path.” It is a humble and human request, to walk in the light of love. That love shines throughout this beautiful album. In these days of dissonance and chaos, few sounds are more welcome or nourishing than human voices in perfect harmony, united around one lyric, one message. Amy Holland’s music is both sophisticated and simple, rich with genuine heart and soul, and an infectious passion for great songwriting. At its heart is the purity of exquisite singing. A perfect album for now, this is a beautiful musical remedy for the discord of modern times.