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Feb. 15 - 22, 2001

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*** Irma Thomas



Irma Thomas has made her career in New Orleans, but she traveled upriver to another city with a soulful history to put her powerful, slightly smoky vocals to this set of tunes written by Dan Penn, whose most famous works include "Do Right Woman" and "Dark End of the Street." It's a familiar and fitting match, since Thomas, who's had hits with "Ruler of My Heart" and "Time Is on My Side," has previously recorded some of the stately, direct love ballads Penn likes to work up with his collaborators. In addition to Penn classics including "A Woman Left Lonely" and "I'm Your Puppet," the set also contains tunes Penn put together around the time of the recording. Perhaps as a result, some tracks -- "Hurtin' for Certain," for example -- seem to be missing his golden touch. The backing from Memphis studio regulars is as solid as it comes, with no emphasis on solos and lots of thoughtful touches from the horn section or guitarist Michael Toles. The sound is maybe a little too smooth to show Thomas or Penn at their most powerful, but it is another sturdy set from a legend of soul who definitely still has the power.

Bill Kisliuk

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