12 Songs, 35 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Laura Nyro was only 19 when she recorded her remarkable 1966 debut album. She displayed a maturity far beyond her years as a singer and (especially) a songwriter, paving the way for even bolder advances to come. The First Songs documents the earliest blossoming of her signature style, fusing R&B, Broadway and gospel elements with a quirky lyric sensibility. “Wedding Bell Blues,” “Stoney End” and “Goodbye Joe” are at once soulful and exalted, filled with dreamy poetic nuance. Nyro is unafraid to tackle serious themes, embracing decadence in “Buy And Sell” and laughing at mortality in “And When I Die.” Her sultry vocals show the command of a budding pop diva, particularly on smoldering ballads like “I Never Meant To Hurt You.” The First Songs makes the case that Nyro could’ve been a successful mainstream singer if her muse had led her that way. The likes of the Fifth Dimension and Barbra Streisand went on to score hits with many of these tunes – but Nyro’s versions are the definitive ones, and they remain a revelation.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Laura Nyro was only 19 when she recorded her remarkable 1966 debut album. She displayed a maturity far beyond her years as a singer and (especially) a songwriter, paving the way for even bolder advances to come. The First Songs documents the earliest blossoming of her signature style, fusing R&B, Broadway and gospel elements with a quirky lyric sensibility. “Wedding Bell Blues,” “Stoney End” and “Goodbye Joe” are at once soulful and exalted, filled with dreamy poetic nuance. Nyro is unafraid to tackle serious themes, embracing decadence in “Buy And Sell” and laughing at mortality in “And When I Die.” Her sultry vocals show the command of a budding pop diva, particularly on smoldering ballads like “I Never Meant To Hurt You.” The First Songs makes the case that Nyro could’ve been a successful mainstream singer if her muse had led her that way. The likes of the Fifth Dimension and Barbra Streisand went on to score hits with many of these tunes – but Nyro’s versions are the definitive ones, and they remain a revelation.

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