CD Soul/R&B Review

Marlena Shaw’s From The Depths Of My Soul

Title: From The Depths Of My Soul

Label: SoulMusic

An interesting singer, Shaw could easily handle soul but was equally accomplished in the jazz field too.

Some singers, you feel, do the business in the studio. They are at home and produce their best work in a concentrated atmosphere, surrounded by familiar people but Shaw was very much a live artist. She was quite an extrovert on stage which helped to connect her to the audience which then fed back and enhanced her performances still further.

This album, originally released in 1973 on Blue Note (her second for the label at that time), featured a host of meaty jazz men including Ron Carter on bass, Grady Tate on drums and two guitarists: Cornell Dupree and Hugh McCracken.

You would think, having signed to Blue Note, that the album would be jazz inflected but that wasn’t to be. Shaw was part of the label’s new mission, to turn it into a more mainstream concern. Hence the resulting soul inflected delivery, popular at the time.

Despite her sassy demeanour, this album brought out another side to her personality. As she said herself, “It’s a different Marlena. I think a lot of it, including the choice of tunes, had to do with that fact that I was being a little more introspective…Also, at this point some of my kids were teenagers and I really had to deal with life. I now realise that part of it had to do with who was there in the  household and everyone wasn’t happy. All of that was going on at the time and that’s why I chose those songs.”

Even the subdued cover image reflects a real life trauma as Shaw admitted that, as the time of the photo, she was on the verge of breaking up a relationship.

Hence, songs like But For Now are heavy with a yearning emotion while Easy Evil talks of temptations and losing control and the Laughter and The Tears is a reflective piece. Fans of Dinah Washington should check her out.

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