Singer-songwriter Laura Nyro was renowned for blue-eyed soul standards such as "Stoned Soul Picnic" and "Wedding Bell Blues" when, in 1971, she decamped to Philadelphia International studio to record this album of soul covers with the PI production team of Gamble & Huff, taking along her new friends Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash.
Featuring Sixties soul and girl-group classics delivered with youthful sincerity, it's the pop equivalent of a religious oratorio, the girls' voices blending in a way that cuts straight to the heart of desire on versions of Smokey Robinson's "You've Really Got A Hold On Me" and Marvin Gaye's "The Bells". Nyro herself described the album as her "favourite teenage heartbeat music", containing memories of her New York youth singing with friends on street corners. The opening "I Met Him On A Sunday", sung a cappella with handclaps, revives the spirit of a generation of girl groups, from The Shirelles on. But it's Nyro's transformation of doowop rarities like "Désiree" and "The Wind" into hymns of soulful yearning that most impresses here, irresistibly redolent of NYC fire-escape romances.
Download this Désiree; The Wind; The Bells; Nowhere To Run; I Met Him On A Sunday