Motown Spotlight contributor and author Sharon Davis reviews the much-acclaimed 1972 MoWest debut album by Syreeta

From the young soulful voice that fronted “I Can’t Give Back The Love I Feel For You” in 1968, a confident, mature singer/songwriter grew and blossomed from Rita Wright into Syreeta.  Often hidden in the shadow of the mighty names like Diana Ross and Martha Reeves, she patiently honed her art behind scenes until Stevie Wonder spotted her.  The rest, as they say, is music history.

While singing was her first love, Syreeta’s talent as a gifted songwriter was well-known thanks to guidance from said Mr Wonder, and this her debut album first issued on the then-newly-opened Mowest label in 1972, proved how compatible they were together. The release featured joint and solo compositions alongside a couple of Syreeta’s interpretations of third party songs. There’s no doubt about it, this young lady was given the greatest gift of all to springboard her solo career, where the calm, laid-back “To Know You Is To Love You” was a prime example of their working relationship. Stevie jumped in on vocals leaving her to join him as the song funked up.

While “Keep Him Like He Is” fell into the featherweight league, this ‘easy listen’-er gave a nod to Dionne Warwick, “Black Maybe” written by Wonder smacked of a young Billie Holiday with its jazz-inflected mood and stark social commentary. Of the cover versions here, Smokey Robinson’s classic “What Love Has Joined Together”- giving credence to Syreeta’s rich vocals –  was miles better than the take on The Beatles’ “She’s Leaving Home” where, if she had been left to her own devices, the song would have been more of a credit to her.  Stevie’s solo composition “I Love Every Little Thing About You” was the first extracted single, blatantly utilised his growing expertise on all things synthesiser which, obviously, was heard in varying degrees throughout the whole album.     

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