Gentry's debut LP, which went to number one on the pop charts, was a promising but not wholly satisfying disc, with the singer penning all but one of the songs. Inevitably, the title track dwarfed everything else by comparison, but a greater problem was that several of the other tunes recycled variations of the "Ode to Billie Joe" riff. On the other hand, "Mississippi Delta" is gloriously tough, throaty swamp rock; few other women pop singers have sounded as raw. Other good cuts were "I Saw an Angel Die," an effective mating of Gentry's country-blues guitar riffs and low-key orchestration, and the jazz waltz-timed "Papa, Woncha Let Me Go to Town With You." Her vocals are poised and husky throughout the record, on which she was definitely on the right track -- one that she was quickly diverted from, into more MOR-oriented sounds.
Ode to Billie Joe Review
by Richie Unterberger