Sunday, October 3, 2021

Stevie Wonder presents Syreeta

(Motown, 1974) This is a really good record, but it is all over the place, with the rousing 70s-style anthemic "I'm Going Left" kicking it off, and other stuff sounding like Bacharach, or vaudeville reggae (?), or (fittingly) Motown. Most impressive is that none of this sounds like signature Stevie, though he wrote or co-wrote with Wright (Syreeta's last name, possibly suggesting a punny twist to the Left/Right lyrics of the opening track), produced everything and sings backup throughout. Everything showcases her clear, expressive, sexy, distinct voice. The album culminates in the majestic "Universal Sound of the World," which is closest to recognizable Stevie (in ambitious dreamer mode), but mostly this album showcases a woman with a marvelous voice that transcended, inspired, and gave flight to her then ex-husband's magical talents.

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