Where most would struggle in their careers to produce three worthwhile live albums, for songwriters as prolific as the Indigo Girls there seems fair justification. Bringing together some of their favourite live recordings from 2006-2009, they have hand-picked more than enough new material to fill 31 slots on a double album whilst avoiding the kind of overlap which could’ve made this offering feel somewhat redundant.
This is a fairly impressive feat since they have also chosen to entirely omit all of their Rites Of Passage anthems and is surely a testament to an impressive and ever expanding back catalogue. Despite inclusion of the likes of Closer to Fine, which they confess to being unsure whether to reel out again on Staring Down The Brilliant Dream, they demonstrate a natural talent for renewal and a passion for their live work which makes the album relevant and exciting, rather than a stale rehash of their old hits. Duets with youngsters such as Brandi Carlile on Ozilline and Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright no doubt help but it would be unfair to even suggest they are the root of their continuing success.
Long time fans will no doubt relish the inclusion of understated gems such as Cordova, Come On Home or Devotion. Similarly the arrangements on Get Out The Map and Become You help them shine as stand out tracks and capture the magic of seeing the girls live. Whilst they have selected a disappointing version of Shame On You which, with a somewhat messy arrangement doesn’t quite pack the punch it did on Shaming Of The Sun, this is more than made up for by an outstanding performance of Kid Fears with Trina Meade picking up and surpassing Michael Stipe’s original guest vocal. Although there are still a few duds in the pack and I have to wonder why Rock And Roll Heaven’s Gate was included either on Despite Our Differences or as a live performance, the majority of the album is solid and with glimmers of brilliance, making it essential for old fans and a perfect introduction for newcomers.