Like her first two efforts for Rounder, True Believer is a stellar collection of contemporary soul performed in the classic '50s New Orleans tradition. The difference is in conception. True Believer focuses on heartbreak songs, and there is genuine anguish in Irma Thomas' voice, making new songs by the likes of Dan Penn, Dr. John, Tony Joe White, Allen Toussaint, and Doc Pomus sound like instant classics. Another excellent effort from a woman who has plenty to her credit.
The 1970s were lost years for Irma Thomas in some respects. She was wholly out of the commercial mainstream and, sometimes, without a recording contract. Nor had she yet carved out her well-deserved niche as a torchbearer of the New Orleans vocal soul tradition. Instead, she was only able to grab some recording time and record releases here and there, usually on small labels. While this 19-song CD, A Woman's Viewpoint: The Essential 1970s Recordings, is probably about as good a compilation as can be assembled from this period, there's no getting around the realization that this is far from her best work on record.
In the '60s, Eumir Deodato and Marcos Valle were one of Brazil's potent combinations – they enjoyed the type of strong rapport that Antonio Carlos Jobim had with João Gilberto and Flora Purim has with Airto Moreira. This collection of '60s recordings paints an attractive picture of Deodato's collaborations with Valle. Regrettably, Irma doesn't provide exact recording dates – which is extremely frustrating – but the music is excellent. While Valle is the composer, Deodato is the arranger/conductor. In addition to playing acoustic and electric piano and organ, Deodato oversees a predominantly Brazilian big band that includes heavyweights like trombonist Raul DeSouza and drummers Ivan Conti (of Azymuth fame) and Dom Um Romão.