Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Shirley Brown

  • Woman to Woman [Truth, 1974] A-
  • The Soul of a Woman [Malaco, 1997] Neither

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Woman to Woman [Truth, 1974]
Not a very sisterly exchange--this is traditional woman-as-supplicant stuff, as male-identified as it gets. And the songs don't have a lot of identity either. But though most of this material wouldn't work on the radio, it comes together on album. For sheer vocal beauty, Brown is in a class with Al Green and Aretha Franklin, whose creamy natural timbres hers recalls, though it's not as rich as Aretha's nor as pure as Al's. Where Franklin and Green go for baroque rhythmic and dynamic effects, to let you know they're in extremis, Brown's even tone suggests supernatural patience in the face of suffering. And the spare, undistracting Stax production proves that traditionalism has its uses. A-

The Soul of a Woman [Malaco, 1997] Neither