Woman

by: Nancy Sinatra

Retroactively, certain segments of the intelligentsia are trying to establish this as a long lost Nancy Sinatra masterpiece. For awhile it was pretty much long lost, the singer's own superb management of a new millennium career revival pretty much taking care of that problem. As for the rest, it would be sweet if it were true. The haze of past creative decisions made under some kind of commercial pressure must hang in the air at recording studios like an invisible shroud. Interpreting it all requires a great deal of guessing, even if there is a helpful amount of recollection, perhaps even knowledge, to back it up. What Woman sounds like, for the most part, is producer Jimmy Bowen's attempt to sell Nancy Sinatra as another Karen Carpenter. Hedging bets, direct help is brought from two singers that were also particularly happening in the early '70s. Kim Carnes contributes two songs, neither of which seems like a candidate for anyone's desert island stash, not unless they can figure out a way to make tortillas out of them. Donna Fargo's hit of the time, the somewhat creepy "Happiest Girl in the Whole USA," also gets a cover version. Going country turned out to be a good move for Nancy Sinatra in the '70s, artistically if not commercially. Even if Donna Fargo is hardly great country & western, it shows that Nancy can be Donna just like she can be Kim or Karen or anyone else for that matter. She can sing in any style more than just effectively, plus has the ability to put across distinct, vivid personalities as part of the material. She is the sassy girl with the boots, she is Phaedra with the flowers, and on that subject, it should be mentioned that this is at least the third time in her career that she gets to sing about pretty things that are grown and sniffed. Arranger Larry Muhobarec keeps things sounding clean and he probably didn't have to spare much expense in terms of hiring an uncredited crew of professionals to further sugar up the singer who came across much better when she was walking the streets of Sugartown. That is a good way to segue into an appropriate comment from one expert on contemporary music who studies the history of music based solely on cover art imagery: "Woman flopped because Nancy no longer looked sexy, she wears a virginal white dress. As a result nobody bought the album." Such chatter would surely depress the feminists who have described this album as a landmark, once again long lost and forgotten, in the history of their cause's expression in contemporary culture. On the opening "Kind of a Woman," the producer was trying to appease somebody, not feminists however. This is a stab at a Lee Hazlewood style song, full of clever lyrics and turns of phrase with at times nowhere to breath in between them. ~ Eugene Chadbourne

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