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March 1999

Jimmy Scott
Holding Back the Years
AO!

Admittedly Jimmy Scott is an acquired taste, but once you've quaffed from his deep well you're an initiate who can't get enough of the sweet nectar of his impossible falsetto and languid tempos. Holding Back The Years is an apt title as Jimmy sounds better on record than he has in ages. Somehow he's turned back the clock just a bit and corralled what had seemed like an impossibly runaway vibrato. Veteran singers must either grow with it gracefully and tailor their material accordingly or dig deep for some means of control, and Jimmy seems to have it under reasonable control.

Buoyed by simple, yet inspired accompaniment including piano, bass, drums, alto sax or trumpet, and guitar, with occasional tasteful string quartet sweetening, this is a successful program of, what else, ballads. If you're waiting for up tempo from Jimmy Scott, you've got an infinity to cool your heels. His artistry long ago discovered the comfort zone of oozing tempos, and there is nothing bolder than medium cool here. The title track is a fine pop re-configuration with muted strings that is in a class with his memorable take on the R&B classic "Our Day Will Come." Elsewhere he's a "Slave to Love", he's "Almost Blue", and he's engaged in the "Crying Game", each invested with the sort of pure soul that gives the listener a personal glimpse inside this artist's deep well of emotion. Jimmy Scott is a classic performer and this is yet another valuable reminder.

Originally published in March 1999
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