Laura Nyro

New York Tendaberry

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Although New York Tendaberry was nearly as strong a record as its predecessor, Eli and the Thirteenth Confession, it wasn't as accessible. In large part that's because, unlike her first two albums, it didn't have three or four songs that would become instantly recognizable hits in the hands of other artists. But it was also because the mood of the record was considerably darker and the production quite a bit starker. It was hardly a gloomy affair, but the emphasis was on soulful laments and arrangements that often featured, in part or whole, nothing but her voice and piano. Without at all sounding blatantly derived from gospel, it often sounded very much in the spirit of gospel in its fervid passion, though using melodies from a wide pop/blues-soul canvas and addressing concerns far more secular and personal. There were crafty, dramatic punctuations of orchestration, yet these were far more subdued than they had been on the more jubilant Eli and the Thirteenth Confession. "Save the Country" (along with the upbeat section of "Time and Love") is really the only song here that has the immediate uplifting impact of her most famous early tunes, and even that track could have benefited from a less-bare setting. It's a rewarding album, but one that takes some effort to fully appreciate. The 2002 CD reissue adds two bonus tracks: the mono single version of "Save the Country," which has a far fuller arrangement than the album take, and the jaunty, previously unreleased "In the Country Way."

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