The first surprise, on receiving a copy of Country Soul Sisters is that it is accompanied by a huge 68 pages long book. Each singer has her own potted, yet informative and well-written, biography together with some stunning photos. Stuart Baker is the man behind this compilation and he wrote the notes too. Now, there's a name I shall be looking out for, in future.
Don't be misled by the album's title. This is not soul music as we know it but it is a vivid illustration of the music and song of poor women from the hinterlands of the USA. It therefore neatly parallels the path of Black America's soul music. The things soul and country music have in common, as well as having roots in the lowest strata of society, are deeply emotional stories expressed in entertaining song and performed by well-honed singers who have lived the lives they sing about. hat more could anybody ask for.
Being a soul music fan, I've always had an ear for the story-telling heart-felt songs of country music and, in particular, the recordings of country women. This set is an absolute gem of a collection. There are a sprinkling of big pop hits, such as Ode To Billie Joe and Harper Valley PTA, mixed together with some less familiar but no less entertaining songs from famous and less recognisable names.
As well as one of the best CD booklets around, the CD has been very well sequenced so that the whole thing flows along beautifully. At this price, and with this quality, it would make a perfect gift for anyone who loves music and wants to broaden their horizons.