Phyllis Hyman

Phyllis Hyman

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This 1977 set is the debut from one of music's most emotional and beloved singers. Her career got a jump-start from her work on Norman Connors's 1976 album You Are My Starship, where Hyman gave a melancholy and skilled reading of the Stylistics' hit "Betcha by Golly Wow." That album set the standard for Hyman's career and features a classy, mellow R&B sound made with esteemed jazz/R&B players. But among her late-'70s and early-'80s output, Phyllis Hyman is, curiously, one of her most forgotten efforts, though it included many songs she would be later be identified with. Skip Scarborough's "No One Can Love You More" is indicative of her plentiful sensual charm and her rich vocal timbre. Although Hyman's vocal prowess is well-known, this set also shows that she was gifted with an uncommon maturity. Hyman was only in her mid-twenties when this was recorded, and her self-possession enabled her to glide through the majority of the material here. Hyman's version of Thom Bell and Linda Creed's "I Don't Want to Lose You" (originally recorded by the Spinners) is even more of a tearjerker. From singing the chorus in the intro to a Sarah Vaughan-like scat in the middle, the song was hers. Her debut also displays her skill: the blessing and the curse of making half-baked material interesting. On "Beautiful Man of Mine" and Hubert Eaves' "Children of the World," her vocals are undoubtedly the best thing about the tracks. Phyllis Hyman veers from instant melodic classics to unformed ideas, a mix that prevents it from being essential.

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