I was barely aware of Nyro when I listened to this record – I had heard her name, likely from seeing it listed in credits and mentioned here and there I guess, but I didn’t know what I was in for.
The biggest surprise for me is Nyro’s reputation is as a songwriter yet what stands out here is her big, bold, brash singing style, and how arranged everything is. This is not a songwriter who recorded a bunch of demos and decided to put them out. This is someone who is trying to sell herself as a performer. It through me for a loop.
Nyro’s songs are, to my ears, not anything particular special. I can’t say I love her lyrics – though the odd line is alright – and they seem to have dated more than some of her contemporaries’. And the songs themselves don’t really strike me as that interesting – just better-than-average pop soul tunes with the odd quirk.
What I do find interesting is Nyro herself, particularly her crazy tempo changes that occur seemingly at random. Maybe these are written into the songs themselves, I don’t really know, but to my ears its her interpretations of her own work that I find compelling. (I don’t feel compelled to seek our other version’s of her songs because I can’t imagine they would be more interesting than this record.)
This isn’t really my thing – it’s too far on the pop side of soul and I like my jazz-influenced popular music to be a lot jazzier – but I appreciate the idiosyncrasy and the sheer unpredictability of her tempos, which must have been hell for this band to learn.
All tracks written by Laura Nyro.
- “Luckie” 3:00
- “Lu” 2:44
- “Sweet Blindness” 2:37
- “Poverty Train” 4:16
- “Lonely Women” 3:32
- “Eli’s Comin'” 3:58
- “Timer” 3:22
- “Stoned Soul Picnic” 3:47
- “Emmie” 4:20
- “Woman’s Blues” 3:46
- “Once It Was Alright Now (Farmer Joe)” 2:58
- “December’s Boudoir” 5:05
- “The Confession” 2:50
- Laura Nyro – piano, vocal, harmonies, “witness to the confession”
- Ralph Casale, Chet Amsterdam – acoustic guitar
- Hugh McCracken – electric guitar
- Chuck Rainey, Chet Amsterdam – bass
- Artie Schroeck – drums, vibes
- Buddy Saltzman – drums
- Dave Carey – percussion
- Bernie Glow, Pat Calello, Ernie Royal – trumpet
- George Young, Zoot Sims – saxophone
- Wayne Andre, Jimmy Cleveland, Ray DeSio – trombone
- Joe Farrell – saxophone, flute
- Paul Griffin – piano on “Eli’s Comin'” and “Once It Was Alright Now (Farmer Joe)”