Laura Nyro Live: The Loom's Desire

The pain of losing someone is usually exacerbated by not having been given the chance to say goodbye. This pristine, near-perfect collection of Laura Nyro’s repertoire is exactly that, a chance to say "goodbye,” and is all the more haunting in its effect. This is essential Laura Nyro accompanying herself on piano and supported by angels in the form of her "harmony” singers, demonstrating as only she can the power of her Brill-schooled songwriting skills and the near-gospel fervour with which she sang them. Recorded on Christmas Eve (her New York tradition) in 1993 and 1994, this collection represents her last live performances — she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer a year later and died in 1997. Yet as cliché as it always sounds, Nyro’s body of work remains timeless and in the years to come can only serve to grow her fan base beyond the critically acclaimed cult status she was restricted to in her prime. Classic Nyro is here in the form of the hits ("Dedicated To The One I Love,” "To A Child,” "Save The Country” and Wedding Bell Blues”), as well as those heartfelt essentials that define her depth as an artist ("Emmie,” "The Descent of Luna Rose”). And this is a frighteningly intimate and utterly hypnotic reminder. In retrospect, even "And When I Die” achieves the poignancy it deserves, all the more bittersweet given the untimely demise of its author. This is one angel we’ll miss. (Rounder)