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Bobbie Gentry

Chickasaw County Child: The Artistry of Bobbie Gentry – 2004 (Shout! Factory)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Bobbie Gentry

For whatever reason, Bobbie Gentry completely dropped out of the music scene around about 1980. But not before she'd left us a still-intriguing catalogue of music. For instance, "Ode To Billie Joe" is one of those mysterious pop songs that will forever baffle listeners.

This 23-song collection of Gentry hits and near-misses show off that scratchy, smoky and always compelling voice of hers. Although she's been called a country singer, country is just too limiting of a term. Just listen to the funky groove and brass section of "Mississippi Delta," if you want a good taste of her eclectic streak. Elsewhere, strings, vibes and even jazzy harmonica spice up her mix. Equally compelling is how Gentry's musical sophistication is married to such Southern-soaked lyrics as those found on "Bugs." It sometimes feels like watching Peggy Lee playing a gig at a Delta chicken shack while listening to this album, which is a strange juxtaposition indeed. You just have to wonder what other kinds of thoughts have been rattling around Gentry's unique mind for all these quiet years.

Maybe somebody will convince her to share that off-centered perspective of hers with us once again. But if that day never arrives, this overview will suffice.