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Irma Thomas: After the Rain

Recorded at Dockside Studios in rural Maurice, La., just a couple of months after Hurricane Katrina wiped out her New Orleans home and her popular Lion’s Den Lounge, this cathartic comeback album showcases the Crescent City soul queen at the peak of her emotive powers at age 65. Thomas’ rich, lustrous voice resonates with unparalleled soul-stirring authority on R&B staples like Arthur Alexander’s “In the Middle of It All,” Doc Pomus’ “I Count the Tears” and Clyde Otis’ “Till I Can’t Take It Anymore,” along with earthy, deep-blue offerings like the traditional “Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor” and Blind Willie Johnson’s “Soul of a Man,” spirited gospel-flavored numbers like “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free” and “If You Knew How Much” and the anthemic rocker “Stone Survivor.”

On the traditional Delta-blues number “Another Man Done Gone,” Thomas alters the lyrics-“Another storm has come/The water’s at his door/He couldn’t stay no more/The water’s at his door”-to address the plight of Katrina evacuees. She also offers a touch of humor on her own clever ditty “These Honey Dos,’ which contains some streetwise spoken passages about domestic bliss gone wrong. She closes out the collection on an emotional high note with a glorious rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Shelter from the Rain,” accompanied only by pianist David Torkanowsky.

Originally Published