Bobbie Gentry

The Delta Sweete

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Delta Sweete was Bobbie Gentry's 1968 follow-up to her hugely popular Ode to Billie Joe record -- the title track topped the pop charts and made the country Top 20. Although it doesn't quite match the quality of Ode, Delta Sweete does contain a good selection of Gentry originals and some fine covers. The "Sweete" in the title refers to both Gentry's southern-belle good looks (her publishing company was called Super Darlin') and the album's suite structure. The 12 segued songs detail Gentry's idyllic Mississippi childhood and include portraits of home and church life ("Reunion," "Sermon"), as well as recollections of blues and country hits she certainly heard as a youngster ("Big Boss Man," "Tobacco Road"). In fact, the prevailing sound on both Delta Sweete and Ode to Billy Joe is a swampy, folk-tinged combination of blues and country, with uptown touches like strings and horns seemingly added to reflect the then modern styles of soul and the Nashville sound. Gentry also includes some dreamy, pastoral originals like "Morning Glory" and "Courtyard," songs that could've been written by melancholy folkster Nick Drake. In light of all the album's good qualities, then, it's a shame it's out of print. Collectables' The Golden Classics of Bobbie Gentry combines the Ode to Billie Joe album with a few tracks from Delta Sweete, including the hits "Okolona River Bottom Band" and "Louisiana Man."

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