Before Roberta Flack became a big star killing everyone softly with her songs, she quietly blew the doors off small clubs as a jazz, gospel, and blues singer. She combined the spirituality of Mahalia Jackson, the soulfulness of Nina Simone, and purity of Judy Collins. First Take, Flack's 1969 debut, is a powerful testament to her astonishing vocal skills. Raw and understated, it's more folky-jazz than soul, with John Pizzarelli on guitar and Ron Carter on bass cushioning Flack's low-key piano and blissful, introspective singing. From start to finish, a simply gorgeous album.