Prime of My Life

Prime of My Life

It took Phyllis Hyman five years to complete 1991’s Prime of My Life. While her detractors often accused her of being difficult to work with—an accusation that Hyman later confessed was to some degree true—her finished products were evidence of her superlative musical standards. While the rest of the R&B world was turning toward jumpy rhythms and teen-oriented subject matter, Hyman remained a resolutely mature presence in a world full of junior pretenders. No one from her generation was more adept at merging the worlds of jazz and R&B, as proven by the sumptuous tones of “When You Get Right Down to It,” “I Found Love,” and “Prime of My Life.” From a young age, Hyman was a virtuosic vocalist, but she had an even more uncommon quality: authenticity. Her singing is never rushed and never forced. The listener never feels that she's simply striking the notes and the words. Her verses feel like complete sentences, and she puts the intention of her entire soul into these performances. It's that quality that makes her songs truthful, from the self-affirming sentiments of “Prime of My Life” to the stark melancholy of “Living in Confusion” and “I Can’t Take It Anymore.”

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