She might not have had a hit since 1991, but as one of the defining female soul singers of the 1970s, Roberta Flack's influence has far surpassed the chart longevity of her own career. Whether it's through the passionate jazz balladry of Anita Baker, the piano-based soul of Alicia Keys, the emotive blues-pop of Adele, or the covers of her tunes by Fugees, D'Angelo, and Beyoncé, Flack's timeless and sophisticated sound has been an ever-present fixture on the music scene over the past four decades. Surprisingly only her fifth official compilation, Love Songs rounds up 18 of her best-known romantic tracks from the first 14 years of her career to produce the perfect Valentine's Day-timed reminder of her legendary musical talents. Of course, as the majority of her back catalog was already based around theme of love, few of her biggest hits needed to be culled. Indeed, 12 of the 18 tracks that appeared on her last collection, 2006's well-received The Very Best Of, also feature here, with Top 20 U.S. hits "Set the Night to Music" and "Making Love" the only notable omissions. Concentrating on her Atlantic Records output, the album contains solo material from her 1969 debut First Take right up until 1977's Blue Lights in the Basement, plus her two duets albums with Donny Hathaway and 1983's Born to Love collaboration with Peabo Bryson. Her heart-rending interpretations of Ewan MacColl's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and Lori Lieberman's "Killing Me Softly with Her Song" remain the much-covered classics' most definitive versions, and her most iconic songs. But with another Billboard chart-topper ("Feel Like Makin' Love"), a Grammy Award winner ("Where Is the Love?"), and celebrated reworkings of the Shirelles' "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" and Carole King's "You've Got a Friend" on its track list, Love Songs is far from a two-trick pony collection padded out with lesser-known obscurities. Her duets with Bryson on "Tonight, I Celebrate My Love," and "Can We Find Love Again" descend into the same kind of soppy and schmaltzy '80s pop territory that befell many a '70s soul legend (see Stevie Wonder), but apart from these rare missteps, Love Songs is a beautifully understated compilation which highlights just how much her effortlessly soulful voice and sound have stood the test of time.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien