Irma Thomas After the Rain

Recognised as New Orleans’s Queen of Soul since 1960 when she hit the charts with "(You Can Have My Husband But Please) Don’t Mess With My Man,” Irma Thomas was one of many musicians affected by the destructive force of Hurricane Katrina; it destroyed her home and popular restaurant nightclub. But this traumatic incident hasn’t prevented Thomas from delivering the finest recording in her 20 years. Produced by Scott Billington (of the electronic blues duo Tangle Eye) and recorded post-hurricane, Thomas’s experiences have sharpened her ability to find the emotional core of a songs lyric. On her interpretations of the Drifters’ "I Count the Tears” and the understated version of Arthur Alexander’s "In The Middle of It All,” featuring guests Dirk Powell (Balfa Toujours) and Sonny Landreth, the songs are given added meaning and are moving. Overall, the tone of the album is reflective and inspirational; the majority of the instrumentation is acoustic. It’s also the "bluesiest” recording of Thomas’ career. Considered a "sweet” soul singer, this session is filled with the most tender-yet-tough vocals she’s ever recorded. The standout track is the traditional blues lament, "Another Man Done Gone,” to which Thomas and Billington have added metaphorical lyrics about having no home to return to. (Rounder)