Laura Nyro Allan Jones - Essay

Allan Jones

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Laura Nyro's admirers] refer most often to the extraordinary "New York Tendaberry" … as the possible apotheosis of her particular genius and radical musical vision.

A dark and violent and often forbidding album, "New York Tendaberry" measures with a graphic intensity the extremes of addiction and private despair….

["Christmas And The Beads Of Sweat"] largely surrendered the anguish of "New York Tendaberry."

The mood of "Christmas," it will be noticed, is less victimised, more a celebration of her victory over the self-destructive forces she had so traumatically exorcised….

Now we have "Nested"; a superb and generally enthralling return to the kind of inspiration that so charged those original records of the late Sixties and early Seventies. The immediate comparison is, I suspect, with "Christmas And The Beads Of Sweat"; there is here a similar balance of introspection and exuberant celebration, the same melodic authority and confidence.

Simultaneously, it shares with "Smile" a preoccupation with the fragility and transience of relationships….

The use of language recalls the fragmented imagery she employed so devastatingly on "Tendaberry."…

There is a grave air to these songs, but the melodic sweep of her writing eschews morbid sentimentality—"Child In A Universe" and "The Nest," which close the album on a note of sublime beauty, are, in fact, virtual hymns to determined optimism and the rejuvenation of the spirit—and much of the music has the discreet vigour of "Christmas."…

The two songs, though, that most vividly document the album's principal themes of reconciling private and public disappointments and the failure of promise and the loss of a universal innocence are the elegaic "American Dreamer" (a resigned post-script to the hope of "Christmas And The Beads Of Sweat"), and "My Innocence."

Allan Jones, "Nyro's Spring Fever," in Melody Maker (© IPC Business Press Ltd.), July 8, 1978, p. 17.