Songbook gives Mark Murphy fans a generous 32 songs ranging from 1972-1991. Not unlike its artist, Songbook is unorthodox. The two CDs in the set both start at the earliest tracks and end on the later ones. The work included here makes that a minor complaint. Not coincidentally, this compilation has Murphy coming into his own (around the early '70s) as a dramatic and often flawless stylist. David Crosby's pensive-to-a-fault "Triad" is so immediate and bracing that Murphy all but puts you in the living room with him and them. "How Are You Dreaming?," "No More," and "Again" are all emotional and perfectly sung songs from the same period. As his career proved, Songbook shows that Murphy got better as he went along. A phenomenal 1978 take on "We'll Be Together Again" has Murphy creating a sense of anger and longing few singers could even fathom. Unlike many sets, Songbook assiduously explores Murphy's catalog and infallibly gets the definitive performances. Brazil Song, from 1983, offers a gorgeous reading of "The Island" and a tough, sped-up cover of "Nothing Will Be as It Was Tomorrow." With 32 songs, Songbook does run into a few clunkers. On "Bridges" and "All of My Tomorrows," Murphy sounds distracted if not totally disinterested. Of the later tracks, 1990's "I Fall in Love Too Easily" stands out due to Murphy's poise, what he doesn't reveal, and the beautiful arrangement (particularly the synthesizers). Songbook, mastered by Gene Paul and compiled by Michael Bourne, is an excellent compilation that presents some of the finest and sometimes most emotionally draining of one of music's most talented and eclectic singers.