Betty Harris Intuition

Betty Harris Intuition
Betty Harris has been here before. In fact, if you listen closely, you can hear it in her voice: heartbreak, frustration, anger. Her star rose briefly in soul circles when her take on Solomon Burke’s "Cry To Me” cracked the R&B charts in 1963. The church-weaned songstress left her secular life behind, apprenticing with Big Maybelle, before taking on New York and the world. Bumpy roads and unfulfilled promises paved the way to a relationship with New Orleans giant Allen Toussaint, as Harris added elements of funk and sensuality to her performance, culminating in "There’s A Break In The Road,” a Meters-driven tour de force that failed to ignite her career. She called it a day, leaving the industry behind her until her daughter, discovering fan sites attesting to her talents, talked her into a rematch. Intuition marks this soul queen’s comeback, yet, after some 37 years, her patented balladry gives way to a more energetic reading of producer Jon Tiven’s self-penned tracks (15 of 16 here), as Sally and Jon Tiven supply the musical backdrop. A decidedly Memphis bent replaces the soul pop of Harris’s past, yet she brings huge personality to the proceedings, her voice honeyed and huskier than in its heyday. Harris kicks into high gear with sturdy opener "Is It Hot In Here?,” while the Bekka Bramlett-backed title track captures her slow burn and overall vitality. Perhaps not the Betty Harris record one might have expected but she makes the most of the slick material and, frankly, it’s a treat to have her back where she belongs. (Kitty Yo)