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Irma Thomas - Simply Grand

Simply Grand

Irma Thomas

Rounder Records

Available from

A review written for the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
by Bob Gottlieb

This disc again pairs Irma Thomas with longtime Producer Scott Billington, and a group of pianists familiar with, or part of, the New Orleans soul piano tradition. There are also at times a few other long-time New Orleans musicians that help turn this disc into one of the most finely crafted displays of the breath and reach of this Soul singer. To name a few of the pianists would be a disservice to the others but all your usual suspects are included and a number of surprises that do far more than pull their weight, but push the limits of this impressive project. The musicians that are employed on this disc not only support Thomas, but also push her to go even further than the boundaries she has known and the result is a masterpiece.

This most gracious and giving woman has had a career that has spanned over five decades, and if these last two discs are any indication it is just now beginning to reach an apogee that just might blow the recording industry away. She has not resorted to any studio gimmickry or phony mannerisms, she sings. She carefully selects her songs along with the many around her, and then takes each song and makes it hers, and when she sings it, it is sung with all her heart and soul infused into it; an anti-diva in this crazy world when she has every right to be the star. She is not called the Soul Queen of New Orleans for nothing.

This is a woman who will give you the shirt off her back. She and her husband had a wonderful nightclub in New Orleans and I can only hope she rebuilt it because it was a place to come and get shelter from any storm that was raging. They were people that took you in and cared for you, no matter what. This is a disc that truly reflects that deep compassion and passion that is felt in every cell of her body.

Track List:

  • River Is Waiting
  • If I Had Any Sense I'd Go Back Home
  • Too Much Thinking
  • Early in the Morning
  • What Can I Do
  • Underground Stream
  • Thinking About You
  • Be You
  • This Bitter Earth
  • Cold Rain
  • Somebody Told You
  • Overrated
  • Same Old Blues
  • I Think It's Going to Rain Today

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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