We enjoyed Mary Black's pop turn in her 1997 album, "Shine," produced by American Larry Klein. We were in the minority, apparently. Citing poor sales of "Shine," a Los Angeles Times concert reviewer called it a "pop-oriented bust that turned its back on Black's folk- based roots."
Black's new effort is definitely folksy but also wonderfully varied. On the folk side, there are two songs by Dougie McLean, one of the chiefs of Scottish folk, including his popular anthem "Turning Away." Two other songs would have shone forth on her previous disk: the languid, jazzy "Fall at Your Feet" and "Don't Say Okay." We were surprised and delighted with "Big Trip to Portland" with its rocking chorus. Two disappointments were the mawkish "Moments" and a slow-mo version of Sting's "Fields of Gold." (There are some songs that just can't be slowed down, as Art Garfunkel's solo career demonstrated.)
Still, this is a keeper and another monument to one of the best female singers in the business. You can hear Mary Black in person Wednesday at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, Mass.