Picks and Pans Review: Always in the Mood
Jones comes across as a singer with total confidence and control in her solo debut. Then, she's not exactly a newcomer to her trade. Shirley is the former lead singer of the Jones Girls—a trio of sisters who, as teenagers, opened for Little Richard and the Four Tops and in 1975 became backup vocalists for Diana Ross. They toured with Ross for three years until Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, the master crafters of Philadelphia soul, helped them launch their national recording career. The Jones Girls released five pop-R&B albums, which yielded the hits You're Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else, I Just Love the Man and Nights Over Egypt, among others. While Shirley's sisters eventually left the music business, Gamble and Huff reunited with her to produce Always in the Mood. The first side of this album is strictly ballads, including the sensuously sung Breaking Up and Do You Get Enough Love, a tune straight from the Gamble-and-Huff school of slick soul. Jones is a real pro at delivering the kind of smooth, sugar-sweet vocals these arrangements demand. Despite years of singing gospel music with her mother in Baptist churches in the Detroit area, she's no soul shouter. There's a quiet quality to her voice even on the up-tempo tracks, such as the title cut, which she co-wrote. This song has some of the same feel and strong back beat as a lot of the Supremes' hits, and Ross's influence is apparent. But that doesn't mean that Jones is a Diana clone. In fact, her voice has a singular richness that surpasses that of her mentor. (Philly International/Manhattan)
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