Welcome to My Love

by: Nancy Wilson

Most of Nancy Wilson's late '60s releases contained four or five good tunes and the rest would be filler from the day's batch of B-grade pop material. Her 1967 date Welcome to My Love, though, is an exception. It offers a consistent selection of high-quality standards and strong contemporary material impressively set off by Oliver Nelson's soulfully urbane arrangements. On the subdued end there are straightahead ballads like "May I Come In" and "It Never Entered My Mind" as well as more soul-tinged numbers such as "Welcome to My Love" and "Let's Make the Most of a Beautiful Thing." Wilson's smoky, whispered voice imparts just the right amount of tender drama here while Nelson's dark and restrained string charts keep things from getting syrupy. Balancing out the set are a series of bluesy big band numbers including "In the Heat of the Night," "I'm Always Drunk in SF" and an amazing version of "Ode to Billy Joe." This classic Bobbie Gentry tune gets a funked up, backwoods treatment à la Etta James with Wilson in full swagger. Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis effectively echoes the intensity with his back in the mix, burning tenor solo while drummer Shelly Manne and bassist Buster Williams anchor the proceedings with driving intensity. The set is rounded out by fine renditions of "For Once in Life" and the classic Ray Charles hit "You Don't Know Me." On Welcome to My Love, Wilson successfully straddled the jazz/soul divide and in the process produced one of her best albums of the 60's. ~ Stephen Cook

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