Happy 35th Anniversary to Anita Baker’s debut album The Songstress, originally released May 31, 1983.
Songbird Anita Baker's voice is like a finely tuned instrument, like a soaring violin and her music is the definition of "grown and sexy.” Her velvety voice glided onto airwaves in the early ‘80s and she eventually dominated the charts during that decade. Her debut album The Songstress (1983) was an hors d'oeuvre before the main course. It gave a hint of her vocal style and skills, but didn't show her full scope and power, which her sophomore album Rapture (1986) unapologetically did.
All eight tracks hit the smooth jazz notes, with "Squeeze Me" straying into dance territory. It's catchy, upbeat synth rhythms with a sprinkling of horns make it unique in Ms. Baker's catalog in that it's not a ballad but a shake-your-body jam. The other standout among this sea of introspective musical gems is "Angel." It truly conveys the clarity and discipline of her silky vocals. This song is like being wrapped in a warm blanket in front of a fireplace on a cold winter night. Pure comfort.
"Will You Be Mine" is the consummate adult contemporary tune, a "quiet storm" relaxed feel, with a bit of a danceable beat. The music overpowers Anita's masterful vocals in "Feel the Need." Towards the middle of the song her voice takes over the instrumentals, but the song feels uneven, like a wave that broke too early.
The Songstress is the perfect title for Ms. Baker's first album for indeed she is precisely this, in spades. The way she controls her formidable voice is a thing of wonder. The songs on this album keep it simple and contemporary and leave one wanting more. By the second album, listeners were introduced to the full glory of Anita's voice, with The Songstress enduring as a solid entree into the heavenly musical sphere of Ms. Anita Baker.