My Heart's in Memphis: The Songs of Dan Penn

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Roberta Penn
The combination of New Orleans soul vocalist Irma Thomas and Muscle Shoals songwriter Dan Penn is a five-hankie affair. Not that she's been a stranger to deep expression; her early classic "Ruler of My Heart" is the essence of exposed emotions in song. Decades later, Thomas's maturity deepens the feelings of great Penn tunes like "Zero Will Power" (which she first recorded in the late '70s) and infuses "Woman Left Lonely" with the devastation of a Tennessee Williams drama. There's balance to all this grown-up insight into heartbreak: Penn's childlike "I'm Your Puppet" is playful, while "If You Want It, Come and Get It" sizzles with a sexual excitement that builds to a ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Roberta Penn
The combination of New Orleans soul vocalist Irma Thomas and Muscle Shoals songwriter Dan Penn is a five-hankie affair. Not that she's been a stranger to deep expression; her early classic "Ruler of My Heart" is the essence of exposed emotions in song. Decades later, Thomas's maturity deepens the feelings of great Penn tunes like "Zero Will Power" (which she first recorded in the late '70s) and infuses "Woman Left Lonely" with the devastation of a Tennessee Williams drama. There's balance to all this grown-up insight into heartbreak: Penn's childlike "I'm Your Puppet" is playful, while "If You Want It, Come and Get It" sizzles with a sexual excitement that builds to a holy climax. The project's production may be slick, particularly on the title track, which sounds uncomfortably like smooth jazz, but then again too much flashy funk or blues guitar would detract from Thomas and the stories she tells. Her voice, which has grown a bit husky, is enough to keep the roots of Southern soul alive throughout the set.
All Music Guide - Richie Unterberger
Dan Penn is one of the great Southern soul songwriters, and Irma Thomas is one of the great soul singers, so devoting an entire album to Penn songs was a good idea. Actually, Penn didn't so much write the material as co-write it; he composed every track with one or more co-writers, with Thomas herself getting in on the act on a couple. Four of the 13 tunes are actually interpretations of songs that have been around for a long time such as "I'm Your Puppet" and "Woman Left Lonely", but otherwise they were done specifically for this album. So is the result godhead? No, though it's okay. Thomas sings very well -- it's been pretty rare that she hasn't sung well, on anything -- and has a good sense of staying within herself where a lot of singers would over-emote, as on "If You Want It, Come and Get It." Recorded in Memphis noted frequent Penn associate Spooner Oldham plays keyboards on several cuts, there's a laid-back modern soul feel that gets too laid back at times and not fiery on enough occasions. It's respectable modern soul, slicker than purists would like, but not annoyingly so. The newly written songs are alright, but again not amazing. Thomas' vocals are the highlight, as they should be.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/8/2000
  • Label: Rounder / Umgd
  • UPC: 011661216327
  • Catalog Number: 612163
  • Sales rank: 80,110

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Irma Thomas Primary Artist, Vocals
Dan Penn Background Vocals
Scott Billington Percussion
Bobby Emmons Keyboards, Tambourine, fender rhodes
Elaine Foster Background Vocals
Lisa Foster Background Vocals
Spooner Oldham Background Vocals, Wurlitzer
James Robertson Drums
Jim Spake Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone
Marvell Thomas Hammond Organ
Michael Toles Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
Carson Whitsett fender rhodes
Erica Falls Background Vocals
Howard Lamb Trombone
Steve Potts Drums
Technical Credits
Dan Penn Producer
Scott Billington Producer
David Farrell Engineer
Steve Reynolds Engineer
Tom Coyne Mastering
Dawn Hopkins Engineer
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