Picks and Pans Review: The Story of My Life
Sixties soul music gave the world countless great female voices. Irma Thomas, the "soul queen of New Orleans," possesses one of the finest, an earthy, deep instrument that grabs you in the gut. She recorded her first hit, the bawdy blues "You Can Have My Husband (But Please Don't Mess with My Man)," in 1959 as an 18-year-old. A string of great singles followed, including "It's Raining," "I Done Got Over It" and "Time Is on My Side" (which the Stones covered). During the '70s, Thomas moved to L.A. and worked in a Montgomery Ward, but she's reemerged in the past decade with five top-notch records. The Story of My Life is as good as any of them, finding her backed by an all-star Memphis-New Orleans soul band and armed with classic-sounding new material (and a little lounge schmaltz).
Thomas, who never resorts to cheap overemoting to convey deep feelings, closes the disc by calmly and audaciously taking on Aretha Franklin's epic "Dr. Feelgood" and nailing it to the wall. In fact, the whole album—and Thomas's revived career—provide an idea of what Aretha might sound like today had she kept her feet planted in southern soul. (Rounder)