Review

Bobbie Gentry

The Girl from Chickasaw County

Virgin • 2023

Bobbie Gentry’s story is both very American and yet unusual at the same time. It starts out as with a self-made woman, raised poor as a child in Chickasaw County, Mississippi, on a farm with no electricity, but with a piano and a battery-powered radio. The songs she listens to, she learns to play herself. Later, these skills would allow her to train at the Los Angeles Conservatory, and then sign a recording contract with Capitol in 1967. Success with her blues number »Ode to Billie Joe«, in which she sings about suicide in a slightly creaky voice. In the early seventies she has her own TV show, a decade later she withdraws from the music business completely. Her case shows that showing your face is essential in the music business. In 2018, a CD box set of her recordings for Capitol was released as a countermeasure, and now, in the year that marks her 80th birthday, a selection will follow on vinyl. It will include mainly her own compositions, and her Beatles covers are missing. Gentry has a warm voice, always a little cracked, and melancholy suits her more than spirited and upbeat country. Even in the numbers she performed with fellow musician Glen Campbell, such as »Let It Be Me«, featured here in a fragile string-free version, the tone remains introspective. She could still rock it though: on »Mississippi Delta«, for example, she even makes the letter sequence »M, I, double S, I, double S, I, double P, I« rock. But her most beautiful song remains »Seasons Come, Seasons Go« about the silent longing of waiting. Essentially an example of lush arrangement that nevertheless doesn’t spoil the music, the demo version featured has the benefit of allowing you to experience the strengths of Bobbie Gentry’s song writing and vocals free of the frills. A gem.

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Bobbie Gentry
The Girl From Chickasaw County Limited 2lp Cut Down
from 28.99€