Angel in the Dark
First Appeared at The Music Box, June 2001, Volume 8, #6
Written by John Metzger
For all her talent, Laura Nyro had, at best, what could be called a spotty recording career. With albums like Eli and the 13th Confession and New York Tendaberry, she achieved tremendous critical acclaim, but on others like the disappointing Mother's Spiritual, she fell far from the mark. So when a collection of posthumously released songs such as Angel in the Dark is put forward, one simply must be skeptical. Fortunately, the disc actually works quite well and should appeal to both fans and newcomers.
But by no means is Angel in the Dark a perfect album. Clocking in at nearly an hour in length, it is definitely an unwieldy affair. Quite frankly, there are only so many ponderously depressed songs stripped-down to a piano and vocal arrangement that one can stomach without becoming suicidal. Yet, that is not to take anything away from Nyro. Her songwriting remains first-rate as she mines the estrogenic fields of emotion. And when she is backed by a band that includes bass player Will Lee and guitarist Jeff Pevar, she simply can't be beat.
Comparisons will always be made between Nyro and Carole King — who's Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow is given impeccable treatment here — and rightly so. These two artists had a similar way with words, laying down songs that touch the heart like a confessional. In addition, they had nearly identical ways of turning gospel, jazz, and R&B influences into irresistible pop songs. While Angel in the Dark as a whole is no Tapestry, it does rise to that level on occasion, providing a fitting coda for an all-too-short career. ½
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2001 The Music Box