Lesley Gore released her first album as a singer/songwriter, Someplace Else Now, on Motown in 1972 and reunited with Quincy Jones for the A&M label's uneven but adventurous Love Me by Name in 1975. Amazingly, three decades later, the vocalist who is visible (and superb) on the oldies circuit has put together this subtle and brilliant ten-song collection on Engine Company Records. There is only one Ellen Weston/Lesley Gore collaboration here -- they wrote the entire two aforementioned albums if memory serves -- and that final track, "We Went So High," is a quiet piano and vocal reading that is a perfect bookend to the title track that begins this very powerful and intelligent collection of music. It's the sound of her voice, absolutely, but that voice has matured in an interesting way. Gore has always been a grade-A singer, so it isn't that the vocals have improved -- they have exquisitely evolved. "Better Angels" is as pensive as "We Went So High," written by this disc's producer/engineer/arranger, Blake Morgan, and recorded for his own Burning Daylight album, also on the Engine Company imprint. It is part of the interesting fabric this team puts together. Lesley is talking here in a more adult version of adult contemporary. "You Don't Own Me" is presented in this same -- methodical and soulful -- approach, which is the trademark of these recordings. She takes her huge 1964 hit (it was her second biggest on the charts) and breathes wonderful new life into it 41 years later. "Not the First" is the only song Gore writes with no collaboration -- and stylistically it is an up, which nicely separates it from the nightclub feel of most of the disc. As Janis Ian delivered a strong statement on her Billie's Bones release, and Jackie DeShannon on her stunning You Know Me disc, this is Gore's best work outside of her hit recordings. The musicians complement her with understanding, and Lesley utilizes the platform to touch your heart with the presence of a good old friend you haven't seen in years suddenly showing up at the door. It's a welcome return, and hopefully the start of much more music from this creative artist. Yes, Michael Gore co-writes with his sister, an understated and moving "Out Here on My Own." Just a lovely album quite worthy of your time.
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AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione