It's not easy to attain a nickname like the 'Soul Queen of New Orleans', but that is only one of the accolades laid upon this beautifully-voiced Crescent City native. Thomas is a smooth-voiced songstress whose alto and tenor responses have helped to define southern soul blues and R & B. Her Rounder years have yielded extensive material and this compilation seeks to take a broad slice of that repertoire.
The sixteen tracks on this CD also bring to fore some of the south's finest writers; Dan Penn, Doc Pomus, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, and Tony Joe White among others. Many of the tunes have been remixed and digitalized for a finer sound profile all the way through. Consistently throughout this set, Irma's southern soul is infused with blues and pop sensibilities.
This is a grand slice, indeed, with ventures into vivacious pop like the opening "All I Know Is The Way I Feel". That soft tenderness translates into the following "I Count The Teardrops" by Dan Penn who also accompanies on acoustic guitar. Songs of love, songs of life, and fitting balladry compliment Irma's smooth vocal capabilities. Culled from her previous Rounder stuff, this also includes a previously unreleased cut, "Love Don't Change", with Marcia Ball and Tracy Nelson from their sessions for their hit CD, Sing It. Even the title track is an previously-unreleased long version of the tune where it is obvious how much fun the band is having layin' it down!
You'll find Irma's vocal keys fitting each lock on this set, from the springy soft rock to the illuminating N'Orleans feel of Dr. John and Doc Pomus' "I Never Fool Nobody But Me". Her soft and inviting vocal character is all over these songs like hot fudge over the sundae. With engaging lead components, full horn sections and sweet background vocals, Irma's voice is framed masterfully. A great collection for fans or for those not familiar with Irma's soothing work; a goldmine of soft top shelf material.
Rounder Records Corp.; One Camp Street; Cambridge, Massachusetts 02140:
This review is copyright © 2001 by Mark A. Cole, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.