CD Review: Paula Cole

Paula Cole
Greatest Hits: Postcards from East Oceanside
Warner Bros./Rhino
By David Chiu

Paula Cole was definitely one of the popular artists in the era of the Lilith Fair back in the late ‘90s. She, along with Sarah McLachlan and Jewel, defined the reemergence of the female singer/songwriters with intelligent and honest songs that challenged the hierarchy of male alt-rock. And in this day and age of young pop tarts shimmying on TV, trying to act all “adult” with sexy attire, and working with hit doctors, the Lilith era, and particularly Cole’s music, is sorely missed. Her soulful, emotive voice and the heart-on-the-sleeve yet introspective lyrics form the essence of her music. Although this compilation draws only from his three albums and previously unreleased tracks, it sounds like the music of an artist who has recorded for 20 years or longer. And whether it was intentional or not, two of her songs have been engrained in the culture: “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” was recently sung by Apu in The Simpsons; and of course “I Don’t Want to Wait” was the popular theme to Dawson’s Creek. Some of her other songs deserve a reevaluation, particularly the ambitiously-soulful cuts from the Amen album (“I Believe In Love” and the title song). One of the two previously unreleased songs, “TomorrowI Will Be Yours,” is a stirring song, and provides that glimmer of hope that Cole will release a collection of new music (which would be her first since 1999). Until then, Greatest Hits will have to do.


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