Bettye Swann’s Soul Retrospective Deserves the Hype

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Bettye Swann
The Complete Atlantic Recordings
Real Gone Music

Bettye Swann scored just two minor pop hits during her prime—1967’s “Make Me Yours” and 1969’s “Don’t Touch Me”—but this magnificent singer has inspired cult devotion for good reason. Blessed with a striking, husky voice tinged by elegant melancholy, the Louisiana-born Swann epitomized deep soul, planting herself at the intersection of R&B and country, where unadorned emotion took precedence over flashy display. The Complete Atlantic Recordings picks up her story in 1972, compiling the 23 tracks she cut for the label through 1976, after which she disappeared from the music scene.

Swann is at her compelling best on slow-burning gems like “I’d Rather Go Blind” and the Nashville standard “Today I Started Loving You Again,” but produces the same intimate intensity in songs that rely on dance beats (“I Feel the Feeling”). While some long-lost artists merit just a passing glance today, Bettye Swann deserves the hype.

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