Irma Thomas: The New Orleans Collection: Love Is The Foundation

Pierre Giroux By

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Irma Thomas: The New Orleans Collection: Love Is The Foundation
Newvelle Records, which was established in 2015, believes that in this digital age there is an opportunity to build a new model for creating and distributing music. Each year, Newvelle releases a series of six albums, exclusively on vinyl, that pairs musicians wth celebrated artists, writers and poets. The New Orleans Collection contains four single sleeve 180-gram clear vinyl albums, each of which was recorded in New Orleans between January and March 2020 at Esplanade Studios, a former church built in the heart of Treme.

Each of the four albums in this collection will be reviewed separately beginning with Love Is The Foundation by Irma Thomas, who has been given the appropriate sobriquet "Soul Queen Of New Orleans." Throughout her long career and association with many record labels, Thomas has remained true to her roots and singing style. This is her first release in more than a decade after her Grammy-winning album After The Rain (Rounder 2006).

The songs chosen for this session all have a relatable story line and as Thomas says in the liner notes, "I've had a lot of life and living under my belt, and so it's not hard for me to put myself in a lot of those positions."

Side A opens with "My Love Is," which has a mellow rocking beat established by Alfred "Uganda" Roberts on congas. Thomas runs through the lyrics in her smooth voice with the tight band providing lively support. Pianist Kyle Roussel delivers an economical but impressive solo. "It's Too Late" is an R&B treasure that was written by Chuck Willis in 1956 and covered by a wide variety of artists including Ruth Brown. Thomas surrenders herself to the lyrics in expressive fashion. The side closes with "Perfidia," which was written in 1939 by Mexican composer Alberto Dominguez and translates into English to mean "betrayal." Over its shelf life, the number has served as incidental music for several films including Casablanca and in 1952 it reached number seven on the Billboard charts in a version by Four Aces. Thomas' interpretation retains the number's Latin vibe with her laid-back vocal riding over the band's lush arrangement.

Side B continues with Thomas' exploration of the theme of unrequited love and loss, using her smooth voice and low key approach on such numbers as "Don't Go To Strangers" and the title track as well as "Second Chance." The closing track is "Our Day Will Come" written by Mort Garson and Bob Hilliard. It was first recorded by Ruby & The Romantics in 1962 and went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Effectively using the pedal steel guitar of Stephen Daly, Thomas breathes her soul-stirring honesty into this up to date presentation.

While Irma Thomas never enjoyed the commercial success similar to some of her contemporaries she is, nevertheless, the real deal.

Track Listing

Side A: My Love Is; I Don't Know; It's Too Late; Picture On The Wall; Perfidia Side B: So Long; Don't Go To Strangers; Love Is The Foundation; Crying Eyes; Second Chance; Our Day Will Come


Irma Thomas: voice / vocals; Johnny Vidacovich: drums; Alfred "Uganda" Roberts: producer; Kyle Roussel: piano; Stephen Daly: guitar, electric; Paul Defiglia: bass.

Additional Instrumentation

Peggy Prine, Sierra Green, Kyshona Armstrong: background vocals; Andrew Baham: trumpet; Roderick Paulin: saxophone; Terrance Taplin: trombone.

Album information

Title: The New Orleans Collection: Love Is The Foundation | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Newvelle Records

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