Marva Wright

Born with the Blues

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Marva Wright's albums might be filed more often under the blues section than any other, but in truth she's a versatile singer of all forms of New Orleans R&B, venturing into gospel and soul as well. There's no faulting her vocal performances on Born with the Blues; their powerful gutsiness marks her as one of the best blues/R&B singers to emerge in the final decades of the 20th century. It's the material that makes this an uneven record, though a worthwhile one on the whole. Some of the songs are quite good, the title track being a particular highlight for both its minor-keyed melody and vocals with a lived-in intensity that was a rare commodity indeed in '90s blues records. "Pray" is another peak, both for its moody gospel melody and stellar backup by Sonny Landreth on slithering slide guitar. Some of the other songs, however, are only average, so-so blues/R&B efforts, even if the manner in which Wright throws herself into them is never less than wholehearted. The covers of familiar R&B and soul tunes are also variable; it's real hard to do anything new with "Hound Dog," though "Can't Nobody Love You" (a '60s chart single for Solomon Burke) works well, in part because it strips down to just Wright's voice and Freddy Koella's slide guitar. Recorded in 1993 and originally released that year in France, Born with the Blues was issued in the U.S. on Virgin in 1996, and reissued in the U.K. by Shout! in 2006 under the title Do Right Woman, with historical liner notes and a resequenced track order.

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