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Published: 2001/07/17
by Rob Kallick

Angel In The Dark – Laura Nyro

Rounder Records 11661-2176-2
Laura Nyro was one of the few original singer-songwriters from the 60’s when
she died in 1997. This album contains material she recorded a few years
before her death. Having never heard Nyro before, I eagerly plopped the
album in, curious to hear what all the fuss on the back cover was about. I
must admit it, this girl’s got soul. Her sings are filled with passion and
emotion from a woman who has obviously lived life, struggles and all. This
album represents her strength even further as she was sick with ovarian
cancer during much of the recording.
The title track showcases her amazing
vocal range as well her band’s stellar ability to complement her singing.
Smooth jazz guitar lines fill in the empty spaces as do a stellar horn
section. Half the album features just Nyro alone while the other half are her
with a group of fantastic New York musicians such as guitarist John Tropea
and bassist Will Lee. With the full band Nyro sings with more gusto than
normal so that she can be heard over the instruments, but alone with her
piano is
where she seems to feel most comfortable. Singing and playing quietly,
Nyro’s music is incredibly honest and soothing. Clearly singing from her
heart, Nyro draws the listener in. This is music to get comfortable to,
"Each time we make love/I find complete love" she croons in Let It Be
Me.
Not for the broken-hearted.
Gardenia Talk is the most unique sounding song of the album. With its
Calypso and jazz feel, the song shows Nyro singing more playfully than any
other point. She sings about a stranger she met who she can’t
forget. Like any great singer, Nyro has an uncanny ability at fleshing out
ideas as simple as this into ways everyone can understand.
Female vocalists of today deal with high budgeted producers and productions.
Nyro clearly strayed away from that, for whatever reason, and the result
is a rawer feel. This works greatly in her favor as she comes off more
honest and sincere because of it. Nyro’s career stretched through
generations, having played at the Fillmore East and at Monterey Pop in 1967
(where she was infamously booed off the stage). Her career had its share of
ups and downs, but this album proves that when it was all said and done,
Nyro went out on top.

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