Visionary and socially conscious soul from the ’70s singer/songwriter
On his 1970 debut, the late singer/songwriter dazzles us with his versatility. Hathaway proves himself to be an expert pianist who can improvise exuberantly on soul-jazz hit “The Ghetto” and just as easily lead a gospel chorus on the joyful, inspirational title track. The album’s nine cuts morph from blues and boogie-woogie to pop balladry. Then there’s Donny’s voice, and the way he communicates unspeakable sadness and undimmed optimism, particularly on “I Believe to My Soul.” Few long-players have so exquisitely expressed both the struggles and joys of their era.