Just five months after the release of Lady T, Teena Marie returned with an even more successful album in the form of Irons in the Fire. Its success was made more significant by the fact that it was the first effort entirely written, produced, and performed by Lady T herself. After establishing herself by working with strong men like Rick James and Richard Rudolph, she used Irons in the Fire to completely assert her artistic independence. Of course, James’ influence is still evident on uptempo songs like “I Need Your Lovin’,” “First Class Love,” and “Chains,” disco-funk numbers in which Teena Marie plays the ringmaster with absolute pluck and authority. Along with Chaka Khan, she was R&B's most commanding female presence at the time. Yet Irons in the Fire is equally striking for its delicacy and vulnerability. “You Make Love Like Springtime” and “Tune in Tomorrow” showed that her voice became even more fluid when dancing through the complex arrangements of jazz and Latin music, while “Irons in the Fire” exudes the sublime gentility of a Curtis Mayfield ballad.