It would, after 19 previous albums and two Grammy awards, be presumptuous to suggest that Diane Schuur has finally found her niche. Still, there’s no denying that this 10-track collection of classic country tunes, each wrapped in an understated jazz arrangement, represents Schuur at her absolute best. The Gathering finds the 57-year-old singer at her most subdued, eschewing the pyrotechnics that have defined much of her earlier work in favor of a softer, stripped-down style that, emphasizing her voice’s natural beauty, is ideally suited to the material. The power and range are still there: Look no further than the sustained note that closes “Why Can’t He Be You” to appreciate that Schuur has lost none of her vocal might. But she clearly appreciates that too much flashy grandstanding would compromise the fragility of such ache-fueled gems as “Am I That Easy to Forget,” “Nobody Wins,” “Healing Hands of Time” and “Til I Can Make It on My Own.”
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