Peggy Lee

A Natural Woman

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A dry run for her commercial success later in 1969 with Is That All There Is?, A Natural Woman also concentrates on contemporary hits by composers from the burgeoning worlds of soul music and singer/songwriters. Beginning in the mid-'60s, Lee had begun flirting with pop/rock material and arrangements, though her solid performances were usually marred by ill-fitting charts written by unfeeling arrangers. A Natural Woman was her most successful fusion yet, thanks to the work of arrangers/conductors/upstarts Mike Melvoin and Bobby Bryant (neither of whom were true youngsters, though Melvoin had apparently gleaned much from session work with the Beach Boys, Curt Boettcher, and Judy Collins). Here, though, Lee's voice unfortunately became the element lacking consistency. She unwisely attempts to duplicate the crooning slide of Tyrone Davis and Otis Redding for her versions of their hits "Can I Change My Mind?" and "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay," then sounds a little embarrassed repeating the shoobie-doobies of Sly & the Family Stone's "Everyday People." Lee does perform a superb version of Randy Newman's "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" (Newman actually arranged "Is That All There Is?"), and utterly transforms the one standard from an earlier era, Billie Holiday's classic "Don't Explain." As is true for every trad pop artist that crossed over during the late '60s, A Natural Woman includes three or four songs that qualify for the Golden Throats treatment, but most are solid.

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