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Irma Thomas: In Between Tears

Album Notes

In the wake of 1969's devastating Hurricane Camille, New Orleans soul queen Irma Thomas abandoned the Gulf Coast in favor of the West Coast, settling in Los Angeles and largely forsaking her singing career in favor of the relative stability of retail work. Thomas finally resurfaced in 1973 with a series of little-noticed singles on the Fungus label that teamed her with producer Jerry "Swamp Dogg" Williams and guitarist Duane Allman -- the resulting LP In Between Tears remains a lost classic that captures deep soul at its most poignant and resonant, couching Thomas' deeply affecting vocals in earthy arrangements that emphasize the singer's gospel roots. The sass and vivacity of Thomas' earliest singles is long gone, replaced by the world-weary melancholy of a woman struggling simply to hold on. Songs like "Wish Someone Would Care," "These Four Walls," and the title cut evoke life and love in the margins with uncommon accuracy and sympathy, galvanized by the most intensely intimate performances of Thomas' career. (Shanachie's 1993 release Turn My World Around includes two additional tracks from the same sessions that yielded In Between Tears, but features "rebuilt" performances that supplement the original vocals, piano, and guitar with new backing tracks -- a must-avoid for purists.) ~ Jason Ankeny


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