Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice is a new music documentary telling the story of the eponymous folk rock icon. Although it doesn’t offer much deep insight or stray from the conventions of the genre, this film is likely to please fans of the musician as a fitting tribute to her career.
Ronstadt’s story of bursting onto the music scene is one that is similar to many others, but what makes her tale so unique and important is that she was a trailblazer as a woman. Some of the decisions she made in her career were extremely risky, particularly for a woman at that time, and yet she remained one of the biggest names in music. If this isn’t an impressive story worthy of being told, what is?
The main shortcoming of this movie is that it really doesn’t allow us a chance to understand Ronstadt on a more personal level. The most insightful portions of the film come later in the movie, when she starts to make decisions that were (and still are unorthodox), such as switching from rock music to mariachi. These segments allow some insight into her artistic process, but audiences will likely be left wanting to understand more about Ronstadt’s personal life.
Another issue is that the film is simply too rushed. The movie does a good job of surveying Ronstadt’s career, but many of the most interesting parts have to be left underdeveloped and not fully explored so that every bit of her life can be covered. Perhaps the film would have been even more successful had it focused on a single portion of her career rather than her entire life.
Additionally, the movie doesn’t have the emotional resonance that it likely should. The single best moment in the film is at the very end, when we see Ronstadt, who is still alive but suffering from Parkinson’s disease, sing a song with her family. This footage feels the most personal and honest, and ultimately, will make you admire her more than any adulation ever would.
Because of her medical condition, it would be difficult for Ronstadt to tell her own story for significant periods of time. As such, a majority of the interviews in the movie are with Ronstadt’s contemporaries that provide context. Even though these interviews are not quite as deep as they could be, they serve as a solid enough filler for Ronstadt’s necessary absence.
Of course, the film features plenty of great music because of Ronstadt’s wonderful and eclectic discography. Songs from her entire career, ranging from her earlier folk rock with the Stone Poneys to her solo mariachi music, are used to underscore the movie. Plenty of concert footage is also used, allowing the audience to see Ronstadt in action.
Although it is not the most in-depth music documentary to come out this year, Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice is an effective and touching homage to the wonderful singer at its core. Classic rock fans will undoubtedly appreciate this chance to listen to some of the greatest music of the era.
Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice opens in theaters on September 6.