Joseph, an often-underrated singer, first reached success on Volt Records. At the time of this release she was best known for her time with Atlantic Records. Her early- to mid-'70s efforts were produced by Arif Mardin in a style identified with Aretha Franklin's productions of the time. Hear the Words, Feel the Feeling represents a label switch and a more definitive direction, courtesy of famed producer/writer Lamont Dozier. Those expecting a Motown-styled update of the girl group blithe attitude won't find it here. What is here is Joseph asserting her own pragmatic personality, doing rawer vocals and having great chemistry with producer Dozier. Hear the Words, Feel the Feeling often takes an almost too realistic look at relationships and the lack thereof. All of this is made better by Dozier's strong and confident production. The taunting "Didn't I Tell You" and "Why'd You Lie" mine the same problematic love terrain, with the production polish only matched by Joseph's emotive and pointed vocals. The album's best track, "Prophecy," has Joseph and Dozier again examining bleak interiors. The brilliantly arranged track has great subtle horn arrangement and impeccable rhythm guitar. Hear the Words, Feel the Feeling also has a fair amount of ballads. "All Cried Out" and "Feeling My Way" are hooky and idiosyncratic, as Joseph gives emotive and cogent performances. This album is prime and classy R&B/pop and features such esteemed players as Ray Parker, Jr. and Lee Ritenour, as well as arrangers McKinley Jackson and David Blumberg. But the star is Joseph, and she does great work here.
AllMusic Review by Jason Elias