Cris Williamson, Best of Cris Williamson

Barry Walters

By Barry Walters

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Jazzy folk that celebrates Sapphic love and female empowerment with a positivity that’s nearly unfathomable today.

Selling a half a million copies almost exclusively through mail order and feminist/lesbian bookstores, Cris Williamson's 1975 album The Changer and the Changed proved the commercial viability of music created solely by and explicitly for women decades before riot grrrls and Melissa Etheridge. Its success heralded the arrival of a genre known as women's music, a direct outgrowth of '70s feminism and gay liberation with performance and distribution circuits far more underground than those erected by its punk brother. Williamson's jazzy folk mirrored mainstreamers like Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon, but her lyrics celebrate Sapphic love and female empowerment with a positivity that's nearly unfathomable today. Spanning 1971 to 1989, this collection downplays Williamson rock and country sides, but effusive piano ballads like "Sister" and "Waiting" suggest a happier but similarly substantial counterpart to Judee Sill and other '70s cult folkies once again revered.