She's Got A Way:
Love Songs

Billy Joel

I have a tendency to become suspicious with another repackaging of tunes under a record company constructed CD title. But when the 18 songs are this damn good I can't help but think, "Yeah, Billy Joel's She's Got A Way: Love Songs might be worth adding to the old collection."

Songs from the wide swatch that is this Long Island songwriter's career are here, from his first release Cold Spring Harbor (the infamous album pre Piano Man mixed at a wrong speed and subsequently shelved) up to albums like Storm Front and even the singer's foray into do-whop on An Innocent Man. With a guy who has been at this some 40 odd years, you can just bet Billy Joel has written a heartfelt love song a time or two and here are some of his very best.

Opening with an atypical one, "Travelin' Prayer" from 1973's Piano Man, this tune as well as "You're My Home" (this one sporting what I feel the better lyric), shows off a decidedly slightly country flavor. There's fiddles, honky tonk pianos and even pedal steel between these two. The Greatest Hits Volume 1 & Volume 2 is represented too in this collection, from the big chunky guitar production of a remixed "All About Soul" to the open big vocal of "The Night Is Still Young."

A live "She's Got A Way," perfect with just Joel on piano and vocal, is here - as is "Nocturne," a startling pick and a beautiful solo piano instrumental from the aforementioned, much-maligned Cold Spring Harbor album. There are those jaunty tunes with the big choruses like "She's Right On Time" from The Nylon Curtain, the Fender Rhodes- driven hit "Just The Way You Are," as well as the angelic "She's Always A Woman," from mega hit album The Stranger.

"Honesty" is here, as one might expect, but honestly it's impossible for me to hear this song and not recall Joel himself mocking it during a live television broadcast. He said his mind often wanders on stage and instead of singing the correct title to this one, he would meander and inadvertently sing "Sodomy."

An Innocent Man is represented on this CD by the title track and "This Night." Though I think the title track superior in limited scope of what Joel was attempting with this album, the mix of vocals, which is what I think he was attempting with this album, are superb to be sure.

I do tend towards liking Garth Brooks' "Shameless" better than Joel's, but this tune and "State of Grace," both from Storm Front are solid as is the last song here from the same album, one of what I think might be Billy Joel's best songs ever, love song or otherwise, "And So It Goes." Altogether, She's Got A Way: Love Songs is definitely one for the collection.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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