This two-fer compiles a pair of records cut by Dakota Staton for the Groove Merchant label in the early '70s. After close to a decade in self-imposed exile playing hotels and cruise ships in Britain, Staton returned to the U.S. and cut her first new material in eight years -- recorded with soul-jazz icon Richard "Groove" Holmes on Hammond, Madame Foo Foo not only boasts a hip contemporary sound unlike any of Staton's previous efforts, but it's an approach that fits the singer like a glove, accentuating the earthy, blues-inspired elements so vital to her craft. Additionally featuring the great Bernard Purdie on drums and Cornell Dupree on guitar, the session settles into a sinuous, late-night groove that complements the far-ranging material (everything from "Deep in a Dream" to "A House Is Not a Home") in full. Silent for so long, Staton clearly savors every nuance and turn of phrase, delivering one of her finest and most impassioned performances. Paired with arranger Manny Albam for the follow-up, I Want a Country Man, she veers even further away from conventional jazz sensibilities into soul, a move that clearly suits her impassioned approach. Its earthy title notwithstanding, the album boasts an urbane stylishness that underscores its after-midnight ambience. Albam's lovely arrangements serve both Staton and the material, adding depth and energy to songs like "Make It Easy on Yourself" and "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know."