Shirley Nanette: Give and Take
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.