Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Dusty Springfield "Dusty In Memphis" (1969)

Another from the upper rankings of NME's 500 greatest albums of all time list is "Dusty In Memphis" which has graced my ears practically everyday since I first gave it a spin. English singer Springfield has been labeled as Blue-Eyed Soul, a needlessly racial term in my opinion. From what I can gather her career never quite panned out the way one would hope, with critical and commercial success alluding her. However this gem has aged well and despite making little impact at the time has been regarded as her best work and one of the greatest records of all time. Twenty or so listens later I'm inclined to agree, this is a beautiful record, a real peach.

 There's an emanating warmth and love that comes from Dusty's vocie, soft and elegant she graces us with her kind soul, her words honest, vulnerable and a timeless tribute to the human experience. Even though she has a soft, breathy voice she can muster up so much strength and power when the dramatic moments come. Its spell bounding how lost you can be in her voice as she goes between the highs and lows, as if they are all one eternal movement. Her tone, range and delivery is just sublime.

The accompanying instrumentals play a pivotal role in making this record so remarkable. From what I've read Dusty was a perfectionist and drove her musicians mad trying to perfect every sound. The songs find her wave length and bring a temperate setting to life for her voice to shine, but it is the strings that illuminate. A couple of tracks feel a step behind where they are not utilized and when the strings shine they do so like a second voice, swooning with Dusty and complimenting her emotional narrative. There are many moments that steadily grow, then she and the strings light up and it hits like a heartbreak. The instrumentals are gorgeous, detailed with soft sounds that whisper and chime gently from quite corners. Paying attention one can hear a depth that adds up to a simple direction.

Like any good record there is variety in mood which includes fantastic Gospel group vocals on "Don't Forget About Me Now", an upbeat and empowering track and "Son Of A Preacher Man" the albums most recognizable song, which I have to mention was sampled by Cypress Hill on "Hits From The Bong". There's a lot of love and heartbreak in the theme of these songs and they no issues establishing themselves, feeling unique and individual alongside one another.

A beautiful, timeless voice, sublime instrumentation and my only complaint would be a lack of vision beyond the single format. Each of these tracks play with the three minute mark and many of them simply fade out. Its something I'm rarely keen on but in this instance it always left more yearning for more as the moments leading up to the climax are repeated leading to the fade out. Maybe that's its genius, each song leaves you watering at the mouth for that moment in the middle. At thirty four minutes its short and sweet, I'll often just listen to it twice in a row. So very humbled by this record, its truly a work of beauty and I adore it unlike any other record.

Favorite Tracks: I Don't Want To Hear It Anymore, Don't Forget About Me Now, In The Land Of Make Believe, No Easy Way Down, I Can't Make It Alone
Rating: 10/10