Minnie Riperton - Come To My Garden
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Minnie Riperton's solo debut is in many respects her finest hour -- devoid of the overly syrupy production that hampers her later work, Come to My Garden instead couches her miraculous voice in the elegant arrangements of the great Charles Stepney, striking a perfect balance between romantic melodrama and sensual nuance. Call Stepney's singular approach "chamber soul"--the nimble melodies and insistent grooves swell with orchestral flourishes, while the jazz-inspired rhythms (courtesy of Ramsey Lewis' group) at times evoke Van Morrison's masterpiece Astral Weeks. Stepney creates the ideal backdrop for Riperton's soaring vocals, which reveal a subtlety and restraint absent from the glass-shattering bombast of her subsequent performances -- the opening "Les Fleurs" (covered decades later by 4Hero) crystallizes the entire record, embracing both intimacy and majesty to haunting effect.