Picks and Pans Review: A Very Fine Love
With its emotional drama and melismatic bursts, soulful singing can be hard work. But Springfield made it seem so easy on "Son of a Preacher Man," her signature tune from 1969 (also recently featured in Pulp Fiction's soundtrack). She sounded as if she were relaxing in a pew or adjusting her big, blonde beehive in the bathroom mirror.
Judging from Springfield's chilled-out soul-sister delivery on A Very Fine Love, her first U.S. album in more than a decade, there's still no need for her to get herself all worked up. Time and experience have rewarded the contralto with a kaleidoscope of nuanced hues and an impressive vocal authority: Poor Daryl Hall, normally a formidable singer, sounds a bit spent trying to keep up with her on the sweetly sentimental "Wherever Would I Be."
Although none of these new country-tinged numbers match the perfect pop craft of "Preacher Man" and some of her other early hits like "Wishin' and Hopin' " and "Only Wanna Be with You," Springfield makes these tunes sound nearly classic. Especially Jerry Gillespie and K.T. Oslin's "Where Is a Woman to Go," a dose of down-in-the-depths honky-tonk blues (with background vocals by Mary Chapin Carpenter), and the title song, a brassy bundle of joy with a Springfield vocal that's so contagious it seems to be daring you not to sing along. (Columbia)