Roberta Flack – 1971 – Quiet Fire
Roberta Flack is as always incomparable but this one is just absolutely amazing. And I loved both of her earlier albums and thought that each of them was pretty close to perfect. But without question this album is the pinnacle of her talent and emotion.For those quiet moments….Roberta’s voice will soothe and amaze you. Timeless and evocative, this album has soul and heart to spare.
A1 Go up Moses (5:20)
A2 Bridge over Troubled Water (7:13)
A3 Sunday and Sister Jones (4:48)
A4 See You Then (3:40)
B1Will You Love Me Tomorrow (3:59)
B2 To Love Somebody (6:41)
B3 Let Them Talk (3:50)
B4 Sweet Bitter Love (6:06)
Quiet Fire”, Roberta Flack’s third solo album, has been unfairly overshadowed by the incandescent “First Take” and its masterful follow up, “Chapter Two”. Unfairly because it is in every way an equal partner to its two luminous predecessors in constituting the third instalment of a triumvirate of great Roberta Flack albums. Significantly, even its immediate successor, the excellent “Killing Me Softly”, doesn’t quite measure up artistically with anything she did before that. Just as “Chapter Two” surprised with inspired covers of familiar standards, “Quiet Fire” serves up majestic versions of Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, Goffin & King’s “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and the Gibb brothers’ “To Love Somebody” which Nina Simone had a huge UK hit with in 1969. Unlike Aretha Franklin whose penchant for turning melodies inside out is legendary, Roberta’s approach with a song is more conservative. She may slow it down a tad but always tries to preserve the melody and the cadence of the song. What she does is use her peerless phrasing and majestic performance to transform a song into something precious and personal.
Listening to Roberta’s voice build and rise above the piano is akin to a religious experience and it can’t get more seriously churchy than “Go Up Moses”, the opening track, which has Roberta feverishly incanting over a racuous rhythmn. Continuing in the same vein is “Sunday and Sister Jones”, featuring the album’s most powerful moments and a tour de force performance from Roberta that has to be heard to be believed. Winding up are sensitive treatments of “Let Them Talk” and the Dinah Washington standard “Sweet Bitter Love” which are at least equal, in my opinion, to the best versions ever recorded, including Aretha’s in the case of the latter song. “Quiet Fire” is indeed the middle name of Roberta Flack and the sound of velvet melting…