Friday, 26 September 2008

CD Review - Irma Thomas

Simply Grand

M.D. Spenser

New Orleans soul singer Irma Thomas was renown in the ’60s for her infectious good humour, not to mention as the woman from whom the Rolling Stones swiped ‘Time Is On My Side’. Now 67, she offers this sweet and mellow album tinged lightly with the regret age brings.

The concept: pair Thomas with some of the best piano players around, including Henry Butler, Norah Jones and Randy Newman.

Her voice sounds wonderful – deep and rich – and she sings within herself: She never did cut loose like Aretha anyway.

The songs range from a new John Fogerty tune all the way back to ‘If I Had Any Sense I’d Go Back Home’, from the Louis Jordan catalogue. Dr. John’s piano on that number is among the CD’s highlights.

The album is graced by hard-earned wisdom lightly worn. ‘Too Much Thinking On My Mind’ is a catchy soul-flavoured number about having too much on her mind to worry about the little things – like bills and the rent.

‘Same Old Blues,” with Marcia Ball, is the Blusiest piece – slow, melancholy, nicely done. A few jazz numbers leaven the mix.

Despite the different players, the album is all of a piece: Thomas’ voice is well to the fore, backed by fine piano sometimes punctuated by upright base and tasteful drumming. On occasion, a fine backing chorus fills out the sound.

These songs don’t grab you by the lapels, but they sure grow on you. This album is subtle, stately, poised – and quite lovely.

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