bobbie gentry – ode to billie joe (1967)

On an unusually tempoed record, Bobbie Gentry ticketed a safari of her hometown. Folk, soul, blues, and rock were cross hatched, exhibiting the oneness of context-heavy music. While Ode To Billie Joe is not blessed with the most natural flow, the tracks come to purr with Southern verve and the synesthetic particulars of Mississippi life: a swamp, a church steeple, and a thousand country characters sprout from the earth. Gentry’s voice is serrated in all the right places: dipping below her usual register, reaching high, the rough husk throughout the opener. Each time that throatal distortion slides into earshot, the song submerges in a realism begot by her writing. 

25/30

A favourite: ‘Sunday Best’ 

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