After spending years being produced by some of Miami's finest soul record producers, Gwen McCrae took the inspired step of turning over the production reins to a fellow artist, Betty Wright, on this 1979 album. It was a smart decision, because the album that resulted is tight and tuneful. Melody of Life starts with a bang thanks to "All the Love That I'm Givin'," which bolsters a strong and soulful vocal from McCrae with a thick synthesizer bassline and some effective background vocals on its tag. Though it wasn't a big hit at the time, this became an underground dance favorite that remains popular today. From there on, Melody of Life opts for simple but elegant soul backgrounds to support McCrae's always-impassioned vocals: "I Can Only Think of You" employs gentle strings and a catchy flute hook to back up its tale of yearning for an absent lover, and "The Joy" layers a sprightly horn section over an elastic bass groove to set a joyful mood for its tribute to newfound love. McCrae rises to the occasion with a set of vocals that wring all the emotion out of each lyric: The best example of this technique is "Ease the Pain," a tale of loneliness that climaxes with McCrae letting loose with a multiple-second wail at its finale. The only real drawback to Melody of Life is that, although it has no obvious filler tunes, it is lacking in the kind of strong and unforgettable material that would increase its appeal beyond soul music cultists. That said, Melody of Life remains a solid choice for any fans of '70s soul sounds.
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AllMusic Review by Donald A. Guarisco