[Today: Sultry ladies singing sultry songs in Memphis, TN...]
Dusty Springfield was a one-time hit machine who was down on her luck when Atlantic exec Jerry Wexler suggested she record in Memphis with a team of crack session musicians. Springfield was too petrified to sing during the Memphis sessions, but Wexler simply added later vocal takes to the recorded music, and fancifully titled the results Dusty In Memphis. Here she sings like a mature woman inhabited by the soul of a fifteen year-old girl in love – all starry-eyed innocence and rapturous, breathless phrasing. ‘Son Of A Preacher Man’ ‘Breakfast In Bed’ and ‘Just A Little Lovin” are but three flavors of sultry that Springfield lays down, and there are many individual moments where – like a lover whispering in your ear at dawn – she can produce chills with just a single word.
Meanwhile, Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power) sings like a woman who’s seen too much life in too few years. Her well-documented struggles with drugs and alcohol threatened to undo her career before it got going, but on The Greatest she made a stirring comeback by recording in Memphis with a group of talented session musicians. On the title track, she takes the perspective of a fighter who’s lost a step and absorbing beatings – and somehow manages to sound tough as nails and intricately fragile at the same time. This is a girl who can forcibly take your lunch money while breaking your heart. Like Dusty Springfield in reverse, Chan Marshall is a young woman drained of every last ounce of innocence, singing from the gutter instead of the bedroom, but still sultry in spite of all that wear and tear.
Listen: Son Of A Preacher Man [Dusty Springfield]
Listen: The Greatest [Cat Power]