Sarah Vaughan

A Time in My Life

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Sarah Vaughan brings an almost chameleon-like presence to this album, which encompasses a decidedly -- almost defiantly -- contemporary repertory. Her gospel approach to "Imagine" could only have delighted John Lennon at the time, while for "Inner City Blues" she embraces a fiercely soulful jazz approach, the horn accompaniment in particular romping over the tune as much as she does. And on "Sweet Gingerbread Man" she turns in the purest pop vocal performance. And so it goes, across a wide range of songs, climaxing with an amazingly intense and dramatic rendition of Bob Dylan's "If Not for You." The accompaniments may almost be too busy for what the songs themselves can bear, but Vaughan always keeps up regardless of the settings and arrangements. This record is never going to be considered a major part of her legacy, and was never going to comprise a key part of her repertory, though it's clear she embraced this material better than, say, Muddy Waters did the music on Electric Mud (a rough analog to this record), and some of it clearly registered deeply with her. On that basis alone, it's a lot more than a mere curio in her output from this period.

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