Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Dec. 18, 2009
Jackie DeShannon(Collector's Choice Music)
Jackie DeShannonMe About You/To Be Free (Collector's Choice Music)
Jackie DeShannonNew Arrangement (Collector's Choice Music)
Jackie DeShannon never achieved the recognition of singer-songwriter peers such as Carole King, but her estimable career arcs from the late 1950s to the present with composition credits that include "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" and "Bette Davis Eyes." Four recent reissues chart her lesser known work from 1963's eponymous debut to 1975's New Arrangement with mixed results but charm nonetheless. The self-titled debut in 1963 packaged her in the Carolyn Hester style, an attractive young folkie warbling songs of conscience ("If I Had a Hammer," "Jailer Bring Me Water") and the American songbook ("Betsy From Pike," "Oh Sweet Chariot"), plus three Dylan tunes including "Walkin' Down the Line." Five years later, DeShannon's in flower child mode with 1968's Me About You and 1970's To Be Free, packaged here on one disc. It's lightweight fare, introspective love songs about rainbows and getting it together ("Child of the Street") amid more contemporary hits ("Reason to Believe," bonus track "Bird on the Wire"). New Arrangement (1975) includes an almost unrecognizable swing arrangement of "Bette Davis Eyes" and five bonus tracks, all sounding earnest but dated ("Over My Head Again," "I Wanted It All"). Not her best showing, yet the surprise here is that DeShannon's voice is as lovely as it is substantial. With a dusty lilt that suited the soulful edge of her pop sound, she put out less than stellar music yet remains an A-lister whose work resonates today.
(Me About You/To Be Free; New Arrangement)