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Nana Mouskouri, Ode to Joy (Phillips Music Group/Universal Music)
This collection of classics and hymns shows that even at this late stage in her career, Nana Mouskouri can still captivate audiences with near angelic vocals. Songs such as the title track and also the operatic "Casta Diva" are executed gracefully yet powerfully. Signing in a myriad of style and languages, the Greek superstar never falters on songs such as "She Moved through the Fair" and the joyous, spine-tingling "Con Te Partiro". "Blow the Wind Southerly" is another strong effort as Mouskouri takes on a somewhat Irish lilt to the song, something not every singer can do with a voice. What makes this album shine though is the consistency of the music regardless of composer. From Verdi to Don McLean, Mouskouri hits all the right notes over the near 80 minutes of music. "L'amour Gipsy" is a musical operatic fused tune that is short enough to keep the vocal theatrics entertaining. Only on the cinematic "The Summer Knows", taken from the film The Summer of '42, is lightweight and seems out of place for Mouskouri. Schubert's "Only Time Will Tell" is quite haunting thanks to the subtle violins and builds into a large-scale orchestration. The same is true of "Song for Liberty". Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Love Changes Everything" is another highlight with a synthesized backdrop. "Lullaby", with its music box opening, is sweet without being too sappy. The highlight of this album is the consistency within her vocals, clear and precise and dominating. Many people may love their current crop of divas, but few can match up against this lady.