After her 1983 departure from Chapter 8, which had scored one Top Forty R&B hit (“Ready for Your Love”), Anita Baker moved closer to stardom with The Songstress, her first solo effort. Though the real giant step would come with Rapture three years later, this album set the template for Baker’s torchy version of post-midnight soul. “Angel” set the tone both for the album and all the later, softly assuring declarations of love to come. Of course, The Songstress isn’t all paeans to steadiness. “Feel the Need” is a plea for attention from a wished-for lover; “No More Tears” is a sad but certain vow to let a failing romance die. The beginnings of a style with wide appeal to fans of Quiet Storm, smooth jazz and light pop — none of whom missed noticing Baker’s distinctive pipes — are right here.