After releasing two artistically promising albums, West Indies-born Joan Armatrading fully came into her own with her self-titled 1976 album. She did just about everything right on this record - her self-penned songs match a sparse, self-revealing poetry with a feel for hypnotic and tuneful melodies. Most of all, it's Armatrading's voice -- deeply resonant, assertive yet tender, sensual and otherworldly - that wins the listener's heart. The demands of desire are central to her vision, whether it's the sweet surrender of "Love and Affection" or the erotic role-playing of "Tall in the Saddle." Her singing makes even a playful tune like "Water With the Wine" sounds like a timeless romantic lament. Veteran producer Glyn John dresses up the tracks in compelling folk/pop arrangements, stirring with understated melodrama. Still her best-known work, Joan Armatrading is a must-hear album for anyone who appreciates the singer-songwriter's art at its finest.