Cris Williamson & Holly Near

Cris & Holly

Before Melissa Etheridge, before Ani DiFranco, and before Madonna put a new spin on the term “celesbian” by playing tonsil hockey with teenagers, we had “women’s music.” Since the ’70s, Cris Williamson and Holly Near have made dozens of albums, on independent labels like Olivia and Redwood, for audiences looking for songs of substance drawn from women’s lives. This new album includes covers of Joni Mitchell’s “The Tea Leaf Prophecy” and Meg Christian’s “Valentine Song,” as well as two new songs about living in a post-9/11 world. And they save the best for last: “Memory Lane Medley,” four favorites from their long careers. Near’s voice is clear and strong, and Williamson’s has mellowed perfectly. This collection of new tunes and old chestnuts is a reminder that some things really are better with age.