The first Ray Charles full length album, a self titled release later retitled Hallelujah, I Love Her So
, was released in 1957 to a public largely oblivious that the foundations of a new kind of music named soul were being laid. Though lesser known contemporaries such as Solomon Burke helped to further develop it into a distinct niche, it is Ray Charles early Atlantic singles which are often claimed to have first playfully bridged influences ranging from rhythm & blues, country, gospel and jazz into something entirely fresh and new. Hallelujah, I Love Her So
is a compilation of these early singles, and is a great little album.
Full of upbeat jazz flavoured numbers and downtempo ballads alike, each song present is written around a strong lyrical hook with Ray's distinctive voice carrying the show. Opener Ain't That Love
is just pure fun, as is the title track, This Little Girl of Mine
and Tell The Truth
, each track peppered with jaunty piano chords, horn stabs and trumpets which go a long way to creating a spirited, uplifting atmosphere. The true strengths of Hallelujah, I Love Her So
lie in its ballads, however. Drown In My Own Tears
has become a soul standard, and rightfully so. Come Back Baby
, Sinner's Prayer
, Losing Hand
and A Fool For You
are equally powerful, featuring heartwrenching performances as Ray demonstrates a flair for emotional songwriting. Mary Ann
are the closest the album gets to pure jazz, the former a particularly infectious, energetic affair, Ray keeping things restrained enough to let a pop quality shine through at it's brightest though.
, AKA Hallelujah, I Love Her So
is a collection of some of the earliest songs to make up the foundations of what is known today as soul music. It is important as a historical note, but the quality of music here remains strong and makes it a far from redundant and outdated recording. Ray would go on to record plenty of hit singles over the years and build himself into the status of an iconic legend, but still, his roots lie in his recordings for Atlantic.