This week, we will review a hidden gem from a mysterious artist.
Bobbie Gentry – “The Delta Sweete“ – 1968
Bobbie Gentry has always been a enigmatic person in the music business to say the least… Born Roberta Streeter in the great Mississippi State, she took her music alias while singing with country male artists everywhere in the United States. Her very singular voice and talent quickly put her above her stage buddies and she had the chance of being able to release a 7” in 1967 with ”Mississippi Delta”. However, DJ’s were all more intrigued by the B-side ”Ode to Billie Joe” which became a worldwide phenomena, covered by hundreds of musicians. I must confess this song remains today one of the best of all times, either by the beauty of the music, the quality of her voice or again the lyrics which remain a mystery until now (what made Billie Joe McAllister jump off the Tallahatchie Bridge by the way?).
”Bobbie Gentry performs The Delta Sweete” is her second album and an amazing effort it is. First of all, her voice is a gorgeous thing throughout those twelve tracks. Then, the musicianship is extraordinary in the country soul style one can find in many of these great musicians from the Southern States of the USA, like Tony Joe White or The Allman Brothers Band for instance. However, one must admit it goes beyond this peculiar style of music as the whole album is overall very ambitious, adding up orchestra’s strings on many of the songs. Last but not least, each song’s lyrics mean one thing or another, depending on the day or the mood of the listener. Bobbie Gentry made a few less interesting records afterwards and decided to get out of public life from the mid 70’s onwards, which makes this LP a very specific item.
Format: LP Bought in: 2020 To be noted: This extraordinary record has been reissued in 2020 and the LP version is particularly worth the purchase. I also recommend as a companion piece Mercury Rev‘s ”Bobbie Gentry’s The Delta Sweete Revisited”. Released in 2019, the great American band invited female singers (Lucinda Williams, Norah Jones, Laetitia Sadier, Beth Orton, Phoebe Bridgers, and so on…) to recreate this major opus, each singing one song. Rating: 8.5/10