Working with arranger Joshua Rifkin, many of the songs on the album featured dramatic orchestral arrangements, a departure from Collins' previous albums, which had all been more straightforward folk music. The album included work by Leonard Cohen, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Richard Fariña. Collins' version of the song "Suzanne" is considered to be the recording that first introduced Leonard Cohen's music to a wide audience.
Allmusic stated "Judy Collins was already an accomplished interpretive singer before recording this album, but In My Life found her widening her horizons and revealing an even greater gift than one might have imagined; for the most part, it's a superb album and still one of her best."
The album was certified Gold by the RIAA in 1970, for sales of over 500,000 copes in the US.