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POP MUSIC | RECORD RACK

More Than Just Lilith's Big Names

A double CD captures last year's tour, giving well-deserved exposure to singers who aren't on magazine covers--yet.

April 26, 1998|Elysa Gardner

*** VARIOUS ARTISTS, "Lilith Fair: A Celebration of Women in Music," Arista

The media coverage of last summer's highly touted Lilith Fair tour tended to focus on the more commercially prominent artists on the festival's rotating, all-female roster, such as Fiona Apple, Jewel and Lilith founder Sarah McLachlan. But this two-CD set, featuring 25 live tracks culled from various tour dates, also gives some well-deserved exposure to women who aren't gracing magazine covers--yet.

Among the standouts are roots-pop minstrel Patty Griffin, whose wonderfully earthy, supple soprano brings to mind such singers' singers as Bonnie Raitt and Maria McKee. Griffin performs the rousing "Cain" with equal parts fire and tenderness. Rising modern-rock singer Abra Moore gives an equally sexy, spirited performance of her crackling single "Four Leaf Clover," while contemporary folk darling Dar Williams delivers the thoughtful "What Do You Hear in These Sounds" with graceful intuition.

Some of the bigger stars here also shine. Paula Cole demonstrates her flair for rhythmic and dynamic drama on the lyrical "Mississippi," and Joan Osborne glows on a smoking version of her rock hit "Ladder." And in a sweet touch, former Bangles frontwoman Susanna Hoffs shows up with a spare, lovely version of of her old group's 1989 hit "Eternal Flame," proving that multi-artist tours like Lilith Fair can cater cannily to nostalgia even as they promote the new and hip.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent)

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