Retta Young

Retta Young is an American soul singer who was active between the late-1960s and late-1970s. Following a string of shortplayers with The Superbs and The Devotions, she issued a trio of singles and one album under her own name during the mid-1970s.

Signed to Sylvia Robinson‘s All Platinum label in 1975, Young hit pay-dirt with the wah-clicking, hi-hat fervency of “(Sending Out an) S.O.S.” To capitalize, the singer recorded the wittily titled Young and Restless LP in 1976. Most of the material was written by the album’s producers Sammy Lowe, Walter Morris,  Harry Ray, and Al Goodman — the latter two of Robinson-guided soul trio The Moments.

Themes of romantic wishfulness pervade lyrically — a mood alternately enhanced and contradicted by the backing music. A dominant fifth in the key of F illuminates the anticipatory sentiments of “My Love Is on His Way.” Faint melancholy in the vocals and overall tone indicate that the upcoming moment has kept her sanguine. A fleeting wah-wah/viola stirrup in the middle emphasizes the nervous excitement. As the rare moment approaches, loopy legato licks carry out the waiting period.

With a synth beam on every eighth bar of its watery Emin7–Dmin7 progression, “Really Really” hears the singer moan and plead for sweet nothings from a man she’s been warned against. An abrupt, nervous string escalation hints of a none-too happy ending. By contrast, she gives her partner a romantic ultimatum on the ironically lithe, maj7 string-floater “Now or Never.”

The singer finally finds happiness on the instrumentally muted yet chordally rich, multi-sectional “We’re So in Love,” on which she avows her devotion in spite of other’s doubts.

Little more was heard of Young beyond an elongated, dance-friendly remake of “My Love Is on His Way” in 1978. Married to Goodman, she retired to family life as her husband continued with The Moments into the next decade.


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