Maria Muldaur

Meet Me at Midnite

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AllMusic Review by

Wisely, Shout! Factory has picked up Maria Muldaur's two early-'90s recordings -- this one and Louisiana Love Call -- from the defunct Black Top label for reissue. While both these recordings are excellent, it's Meet Me at Midnite that offers a portrait of the artist as a hardcore R&B singer of the highest order. Produced by John Porter, Muldaur surrounds herself with crack studio players including Rick Vito, Johnny Lee Schell, Hutch Hutchinson, Bill Payne, and a slew of others. Where Louisiana Love Call focused on the music of New Orleans, Meet Me at Midnite digs deep into various dimensions of the Memphis sound -- soul, R&B, and blues -- and concentrates on the myriad stages and phases of love. While it's true that the set opens with "Trouble With My Lover" by the Crescent City's Allen Toussaint, its vibe is pure Memphis: funky, dirty grooves, packed in a tight cut-time beat and Muldaur shouting the blues with a big, clear ringing voice that wrenches emotion from every syllable. Likewise, the title cut by Vito and John Herron crawls down into the blues alley with killer slide guitar riffs winding their way around Muldaur's seductive vocals. "Sweet Simple Love" is pure soul power. Muldaur's croon is affective, surrounded by a backing chorus that includes Tracy Nelson, stating her pure spiritually amorous intentions in front of a popping horn section and B-3 choogle. The gritty yet laid-back shimmy and funk of "Recovered Soul" bears the marks of all of Muldaur's strengths: steady yet emotive delivery, in-the-pocket rhythmic phrasing, and communicative in both range and articulation. In all, Meet Me at Midnite is one of those overlooked gems that got a second life. It's one of her strongest recordings; don't miss it.

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