SoulMusic Hall Of Fame inductee Sarah Dash’s passing in September 2021 was a shock to many music lovers. Her otherworldly soprano was an essential ingredient to the sound of Patti LaBelle & The Bluebelles and Labelle. When Labelle dissolved and the group’s members each began solo careers; thankfully, Sarah’s 1988’s LP ” You’re All I Need” is now available digitally…

Sarah Dash was the first member of Labelle to top the charts as a solo artist with her disco smash, “Sinner Man,” although her subsequent albums never seemed to gain the same kind of traction in the public’s eye.  Thankfully, in November, Capitol Records re-released 1988’s You’re All I Need, the last major label solo album of her career, to digital music outlets for listeners to re-discover and reconsider.

With an A-list of background vocalists, including Audrey Wheeler, Cindy Mizelle, and Sandra St. Victor, and production by (amongst others) William Rhinehart (Beau Williams, Ray, Goodman & Brown), Darryl Duncan (Sweet Seduction, Jeffrey Osborne), and Howard King (Glenn Jones, Melba Moore), You’re All I Need was a forward-thinking project, her first full-length since 1981’s Close Enough. With tunes like “Feel Good” (which calls to mind Prince’s “Girls & Boys”) and the album’s title track, a cover of the Ashford & Simpson staple, “You’re All I Need” (a duet with Patti Labelle), Sarah faced off with 1988, bringing fun, danceable tunes that wouldn’t have been out of place alongside Expose, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam or Dino in the club.

The ballads, however, are what really shine. “Don’t Make Me Wait,” which features Ray, Goodman & Brown is Quiet Storm beauty, capturing Sarah’s softer side, while “It’s Over” gives us a Marlena Shaw-esque monologue and, perhaps, the one tune on the album that showcases the powerhouse vocalist that Sarah really was. The album’s closer, “After Love” (arranged and co-produced by Dash herself with Randy Klein) is an understated and beautifully orchestrated ballad that puts Sarah’s abilities as an interpreter front and center with her providing her own harmonies.

Called “a stunning return for Sarah” by Blues & Soul upon its release, You’re All I Need, thirty-three years later, is an example of the ways veterans like Sarah remained viable in the ever-changing musical landscape of the 80s while holding onto the very thing that audiences fell in love with in the first place. With the re-release of You’re All I Need, fans are only left missing 1980’s Ooh La La in digital outlets from Sarah’s major label catalog, a discography that certainly deserves a fresh re-evaluation in the wake of her passing. 

Tim Dillinger, January 2022