PRIVATE PILE: SHIRLEY NANETTE’S STYLES UPON STYLES

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Shirley Nanette: Give and Take
Sometimes
Heaven on Earth
From Never Coming Back (Satara, 1973)

Nanette is a jazz vocalist, originally from Portland, OR, and though her own bio says she got her start in 1981, this album would seem to suggest otherwise. It is a most extraordinary LP, one that’s recently been getting heavier mention in select circles after a cache of sealed copies turned up and were quickly sold off (I received mine probably 3rd hand, via my last trip to the Groove Merchant). I’ll just say: I was prepared to feel like the album was overhyped but seriously, it’s really really really good.

Part of it is the diversity of styles on here…Nanette goes from bossa-tinged ballads to a more midtempo, soul/jazz tunes to Northern soul-style tracks to straight up funk songs. It’s like three or four different albums all thrown into one; quite unusual. But more than that, there’s something raw and affecting about Nanette’s performance. These are not hyper-polished songs and for those who can’t take too much “saxy sax,” this may test you at times, but as befits a private issue record, it’s coarse-ness is also part of its charm. “Give and Take,” especially, floors me everytime; I love the vocal arrangement on here. It swings in all kinds of unexpected directions and drops in background harmonies at perfect moments.

I really could have plucked any random assortment of songs off this LP and it would have worked. In this case, I went with my absolute favorite “Give and Take” then threw in the other two to showcase the different styles on here. I have no idea if a reissue is in the works but someone really ought to take it there.

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2 comments to PRIVATE PILE: SHIRLEY NANETTE’S STYLES UPON STYLES

  • Funny, my initial thought after hearing “Sometimes” was that this LP is bound to be reissued. Whoever gets to it first should find out what Nanette’s story is. Thanks for sharing these songs!

  • I really liked the song “Give and Take”. The horn section really stood out to me. Nanette has a beautiful vocal range. I will be sure to check out some of her other recordings in the future. Maybe some more of her older songs will resurface. “Heaven On Earth” is one of the most deeply soulful songs I have heard in a while.

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