When Bob Dylan released Street Legal using horns, choirs, and hordes of session musicians, the result gave an idea of how tired he was, and Odetta Sings seems to be the result of similar situation, including tiredness and lack of new ideas. Most of the tracks are covers, the original artists ranging from Elton John to James Taylor, made into R&B. The band is as distinguished as can be expected, including Merry Clayton on vocals, and, at times, the groove and the gospel feeling gives a hint of the Staple Singers, but often it sounds just like the slightly pompous soulified pop that would haunt arena concerts throughout the '70s when the artists of the previous decade ran out of creativity. And it is uncertain if it's merit that Odetta took on this style before it became really popular. Only two songs are written by Odetta herself, "Hit or Miss" and "Movin' It On," which is a shame since they are by far the best tracks of the album. Odetta's deep, dark, warm voice distinguishes her from most soul singers, and these two songs give an idea of what it could have sounded like had she decided to release a real soul album -- an album without one single Paul McCartney song.
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AllMusic Review by Lars Lovén