This collection is exactly what it says it is: Esther Phillips, the great soul, blues, and jazz vocalist, pulling a Ray Charles -- though she didn't do it all on one album -- and performing country tunes in the early soul style (though she did cut the Country Side of Esther for Atlantic in 1966 and a slew of these tracks were taken from there). Her single version of "Release Me," is here, as are a number of other stunners like Charlie Rich's classic "No Headstone on My Grave" and Wynn Stewart's "Just Out of Reach." Rich was blown away by Phillips' reading of his tune because it was what he was about as a songwriter -- not being hemmed in by genre. Phillips does everything in her power to make these songs her own, and this compilation of tracks from that era proves that in many cases, she did.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek