Marlena Shaw Sweet Beginnings
- Released: January 25, 2011
- Originally Released: 2011
- Label: Big Break
- 1.Pictures and Memories
- 2.Yu-Ma / Go Away Little Boy
- 3.The Writing's on the Wall
- 4.Walk Softly
- 5.Sweet Beginnings
- 6.Look at Me, Look at You (We're Flying)
- 7.No Deposit, No Return
- 9.I Think I'll Tell Him
- 10.Pictures and Memories [Single Version]
Personnel: Greg Poree, Jay Graydon (guitar); Jerry Peters, Bert DeCoteaux (keyboards); James Gadson (drums); Eddie "Bongo" Brown (congas); Bob Zimmitti (percussion); Dee Ervin, Julia Tillman Waters, Alex Brown, Maxine Willard Waters (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Steve Pouliot.
Liner Note Author: Christian John Wikane.
Recording information: Total Experience Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA.
After being the most popular female vocalist at Blue Note, with 1974's Who Is This Bitch, Anyway, Shaw often did material that didn't suit her well. Her take on Roberta Flack's "Feel Like Making Love" springs to mind as an instance of Shaw's apparent boredom. Shaw was always an artist who needed to be mentally engaged or the proceedings would be like pulling teeth. This effort finds her challenged, taking on many styles and in amazing voice. Sweet Beginnings, her first effort for Columbia, finds her again teamed with producer Bert DeCoteaux. The album's biggest hit was Shaw's tasteful jazz take on Gerry Goffin and Carole King's "Go Away Little Boy. Although her strength is well known, on that track, Shaw's sweetness keeps the assertiveness from being tedious. On the song after giving ultimatums, she finally says, "Do you think you can get a job by Thursday?" Sweet Beginnings is one of those efforts that picked up momentum as it went along. The title track is effortless. In the middle of R&B and disco, it more than shows off her assured and sensual vocals. Perhaps the best part of Sweet Beginnings is how Shaw's charisma takes over and the lyrics were almost secondary. Both "Look at Me, Look at You" and "Johnny" have Shaw taking on a lighter touch, as each line she sings is emotive and affecting. The album's last track, the brassy, big-band styled "I Think I'll Tell Him" written by Thom Bell and Linda Creed has Shaw almost thrilled to tell her husband that she had been cheating as she sings, "I couldn't help myself sweet baby." Sweet Beginnings benefits from a sympathetic production job from Bert DeCoteaux and is one of Shaw's most enduring efforts. ~ Jason Elias
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